DENVER, CO– House Democrats have advanced several pieces of legislation in the last two weeks that would improve access to mental health care in Colorado. These bills would mandate insurance coverage for annual mental health wellness exams, improve mental health resources for students, and expand access to early childhood mental health consultations.
Annual Mental Health Wellness Exams:
Last week, the House Health and Insurance Committee unanimously passed Rep. Michaelson Jenet’s bill to guarantee insurance coverage for annual mental health wellness exams. HB20-1086 aims to further break down barriers to mental health care by requiring 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.
Enhancements to Safe2Tell:
Last night, the House Education Committee unanimously advanced Rep. Michaelson Jenet’s bill to improve the Safe2Tell program. HB20-1005, developed in the School Safety Committee, would align the Safe2Tell program and the crisis hotline more closely to ensure that individuals in crisis can rapidly access crisis counseling. It would also align the processes for all types of incoming tips and adjust the annual advertising campaign to most efficiently raise awareness about the program and reduce its misuse. Finally, it would enhance law enforcement’s ability to prevent imminent physical harm.
Early Childhood Mental Health
HB20-1006, sponsored by Reps. Sirota and McCluskie, would create a statewide program of early childhood mental health consultants to increase the number of qualified consultants and improve access to these critical services. Mental health consultants are mental health professionals with experience working with young children and their families in a diversity of early childhood settings. It passed the House Committee on Public Health and Human Services on January, 24.
Access to Mental Health Resources
On Wednesday, the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee passed Rep. Titone’s bipartisan legislation to improve access to mental health educational resources. HB20-1113 would require the state to contract with an organization to create an online resource directory with information about mental health crisis resources and resources for individuals seeking behavioral health care services. The online directory and internet links would include information about the Colorado SEE ME campaign and the national suicide prevention hotline. It would also include demographic-specific information about behavioral health care providers that are available to people seeking mental health care services with links to the providers’ websites.