DENVER, CO (STL.News) Governor Jared Polis and Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera marked World Mental Health Day which is October 10th. Ensuring that all Coloradans have easy access to mental and behavioral health care services has been a priority for the Polis-Primavera administration since day one.
In 2019, Governor Polis established the Behavioral Health Task Force, bringing together stakeholders and leaders at the state level, to determine how to best streamline Colorado’s behavioral health system in a way that cuts through bureaucracy, increases efficiency, and puts Coloradans first. The Task Force led to the Behavioral Health Blueprint and included a number of recommendations to the legislature, and this year, Governor Polis signed a number of landmark laws to address mental health.
“Mental health is an urgent issue that was made even more important by the COVID-19 global pandemic, which is why our administration is working hard to streamline the system and make historic investments that will transform our behavioral health system, and ensure Coloradans can get the care they need, when they need it,” said Governor Polis.
“Mental health is a critical component of overall well-being, which is why we established the Behavioral Health Task Force, and the reason we continue to make behavioral health reform a priority,” said Lt. Governor Primavera. “By putting people first, we can focus on getting them the critical care they need. While we have taken important steps forward, we know there is more work to be done together.”
The Polis-Primavera administration increased the number of Coloradans who are able to access behavioral health care by investing roughly $100 million in infrastructure and workforce capacity needs, existing effective programs, as well as addressing and preventing substance use. Another roughly $450 million is set aside for the current legislative interim process. Through this process, recommendations will be made to the General Assembly for the 2022 session, with the goal of building a behavioral and mental health system that provides the appropriate level of treatment to every Coloradan who needs care.
Governor Polis signed a bipartisan law, HB21-1097 which creates the Behavioral Health Administration, as recommended by the Behavioral Health Taskforce, which will provide leadership and help to unify and streamline our state’s behavioral health system and the bipartisan SB21-137 which appropriated $95,800,000 for various behavioral health programs and services. Gov. Polis also signed another bipartisan law, HB21-1068 which requires state regulated private health insurance to cover a preventive, annual mental health wellness exam at no out-of-pocket cost to the covered person. Governor Polis also signed HB21-1258, Rapid Mental Health Response For Colorado Youth at Children’s Hospital in Aurora. This new law takes a transformative step in providing mental and behavioral health support for Colorado’s students and reimburses providers for providing up to three mental health sessions to youth screened into the program.