Bipartisan legislation would reinforce Colorado as a national leader in mental health parity
DENVER, CO– HB20-1086, sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Colin Larson, today passed the House Committee on Health and Insurance unanimously. By guaranteeing insurance coverage for annual mental health wellness exams, the legislation would cement Colorado as a national leader in mental health parity laws.
“I’m excited that Colorado is now a big step closer to making annual mental health wellness exams accessible to all,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City). “Too often, our state’s behavioral health system provides care in crisis situations after a mental health condition has gone untreated. This bill would prioritize preventative mental health care, just like we do for physical health care, so that Coloradans can get the care they need before they face a crisis.”
HB20-1086 would require health insurance plans to cover an annual mental health wellness examination as a part of their coverage for preventative health care services. The coverage must be comparable to the coverage for a physical examination, comply with federal mental health parity laws, and not require any deductibles, copays, or coinsurance.
The legislation aims to further break down barriers to mental health care. Our current system often treats mental health on an expensive crisis-by-crisis basis. By enhancing access to preventative care, the bill would help provide treatment for mental health conditions before someone is faced with a crisis. It would also reduce the stigma around mental health by ensuring we value preventative mental health care in the same way we currently value physical health care.
Colorado is experiencing a persistent and rising suicide rate while far too many residents report barriers to accessing the behavioral health care they need. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado. In 2019, 769,301 Coloradans were unable to get mental health services when needed, and 68 percent reported that cost and insurance coverage were barriers, according to the Colorado Health Access Survey.
The legislation is supported by Mental Health Colorado, the Colorado AFL-CIO, the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, the Colorado Association for School Based Health Care, the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, and the Colorado Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.