(May 16) – Today, Gov. Jared Polis signed two bill sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich to help lower the cost of health care and improve children’s behavioral health resources.
Gov. Polis signed a bipartisan bill, sponsored by Rep. Froelich, D-Englewood, and Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, to lower health care costs and improve the quality of care that Coloradans receive.
“Lowering the cost of health care is a top priority for all of us at the legislature,” said Rep. Froelich. “But Colorado only invests roughly seven to ten percent of its health care dollars on primary care. If we invest more in primary care up front, that will help cut the cost of health care for both the patients and the medical system as a whole.”
HB19-1233 establishes a primary care payment reform collaborative in the Division of Insurance in the Department of Regulatory Agencies. It also requires the Commissioner of Insurance to establish affordability standards for premiums, including adding targets for carrier investments in primary care. Finally, it requires the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and carriers who offer health benefit plans to state employees to set targets for investment in primary care.
The goal of primary care is to achieve better health outcomes by improving the quality and consistency of care so that both patients and the health care system can see a reduction in costs. Primary care visits comprise 53 percent of all health care appointments. The bill signing ceremony took place at the Center for African American Health in Denver.
Gov. Polis also signed a bipartisan bill, SB19-195, at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado to curb youth suicide in Colorado by making it easier for families to locate and access the behavioral healthcare they need.
“We have a mental health crisis in Colorado, one that knows no party lines,” said Rep. Froelich, D-Englewood. “Unfortunately, there are kids that are in pain and are not getting the timely and appropriate help they need. We need to provide more resources for teens, kids and their families to access the services they need to get help.”
SB19-195 would create the Office of Children and Youth Behavioral Health Policy Coordination in the Office of the Governor, a central agency to coordinate mental and behavioral health resources statewide. Additionally, it would create a commission to study and recommend how to best coordinate and provide such services. The bill would also standardize the screening and assessments that doctors use to identify potential behavioral concerns.
Nearly 9 out of every 100,000 teenagers in the United States between the ages of 15 and 19 die by suicide. In Colorado, that number is nearly twice the national average at 17.6 out of every 100,000 teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.