Colorado Legislators Seek Parity for Mental Health Treatment

April 8, 2019

According to Mental Health Colorado, over one million Colorado citizens live with a mental health issue or substance use disorder, though only half are estimated to receive the care they need with many going without care entirely, even if they have health insurance.Mental Health Colorado is one of the organizations supporting a bill that will ensure mental health care is treated equally to physical health care by insurance companies.

House Bill 19-1269, which will hold insurers accountable to current state and federal parity laws that require treating mental health and addiction equal to physical health care, passed out of committee at the state legislature on Friday attempts to hold insurers accountable to both the state and federal parity laws, requiring them to treat addiction and mental health the same as physical care. Rep. Lisa Cutter, a Democrat from Jefferson County, one of the sponsors, says she has heard from constituents that mental health care and substance abuse treatment is being denied by insurers.

“I had one woman reach out to me specifically because her son kind of fell into this thing…they had been fighting with the insurance to take care of his mental health disorder and then it fell into substance abuse, which is frequently the case – you have a mental health disorder and then that progresses into substance abuse disorder because you can’t get help, so all those things are wrapped up.”  Cutter says that substance abuse and mental health issues can also then lead to negative interactions with the law. “It’s a horrible thing to do, we’re not helping these young people by putting them in jail and not actually treating the underlying problem in their disorder.”

Colorado House bill 1269 will widen the scope of what can be considered mental health issues for insurance companies. It brings the idea that the cause of the mental health issue is irrelevant, it will be insured.

The bill passed out of committee last Friday, leaving the supporters of the bill hopeful that it will continue onward into becoming law.

Originally appear on KGNU News.