Bipartisan legislation would reinforce Colorado as a national leader in mental health parity
DENVER, CO– The House of Representatives today passed HB20-1086, sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Colin Larson, by a vote of 45-17. The bill would guarantee insurance coverage for annual mental health wellness exams.
“This is one of the most important bills I have worked on in my time in the legislature, and I am so pleased that it has passed the House,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “Too many Coloradans don’t have access to the mental health care they need. This bill will go a long way towards breaking down the barriers, may they be stigma, financial or provider availability, that have made it far too difficult for Coloradans to access life-saving mental health care.”
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.
The legislation will now be considered in the Senate.