Jared Polis (D)
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Do you support school policies and funding that increase the availability of mental health services in schools and early childhood settings?
- Yes: Making sure our children have access to quality mental health care resources in the places where they spend the majority of their days, their schools, is a critical need in districts across the state. I will work with local communities to identify and fund opportunities to expand rural school-based health clinics, and I will follow the lead of counties and municipalities, such as Eagle County, to fund clinics through targeted marijuana tax initiatives. I will also add administrative positions in Colorado schools to identify risk factors of suicide and to coordinate suicide prevention services for students and parents.
Do you support additional funding for follow-up care for individuals after a suicide attempt or overdose?
- Yes: I will support funding programs and efforts that have proven successful in lowering our horrific suicide rate and in addressing the opioid crisis.
Do you support extreme risk protection orders?
- Yes: I am committed to working with the Colorado Legislature to pass a “Red Flag” law in Colorado that will allow law enforcement and close family members to petition a court to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms if that person is determined to be a threat to themselves or others. Importantly, a Red Flag law in Colorado must include critical due process protections, such as the requirement of clear evidence for temporary suspension, as well as a hearing before a judge, which gives the person a chance to respond to the evidence against them. I will also direct the Department of Public Health to do the research the federal government won’t and examine the public health impacts of gun violence in Colorado, with a focus on death by suicide. This will help guide the state’s policymaking in reducing suicide and increasing resources for mental health professionals in rural Colorado.
Do you support strengthening laws and transparency requirements compelling insurance companies to provide coverage for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders that is equal to the coverage provided for a physical illness?
- Yes: I will strengthen the Division of Insurances’ investigative and enforcement authority to ensure that it has every tool at its disposal to enforce federal and Colorado law requiring that mental and physical care be covered in health insurance plans equally.
Do you support strengthening requirements that insurance companies have enough mental health and substance use professionals to guarantee their members have a choice of provider?
- Yes: In our rural and underserved areas – where there is often no choice of provider, regardless of an insurers’ network – I will work to end the shortage of mental health and substance use disorder providers. For example, I will direct the Department of Public Health to examine how the expansion of the Colorado Health Service Corps loan repayment program to include such providers has benefitted rural Colorado and where we still need to incentivize clinicians to serve.
Do you support requirements that hospitals and other providers report information on treatment availability to help individuals, hospitals and law enforcement locate available treatment for people in crisis?
- Yes: Prior to requiring a tracking system, I will explore how such programs have been been used in other states, their success in ensuring individuals can access appropriate treatment, and the effects on hospitals and providers in reporting such information. I commit to supporting programs and efforts that have proven successful in improving individuals’ access to appropriate mental health care. I will also coordinate with stakeholders to identify and address wasteful administrative burdens in Colorado’s fragmented health care system – particularly as they impact mental health providers – in order to streamline providers’ efforts to increase access to care and – more importantly – better understand the availability of treatment across the state.
- Yes: Again, I will work diligently to end the shortage of mental health and substance use disorder providers and support programs and efforts that have proven successful in doing so. I will direct the Department of Public Health to examine how the expansion of the Colorado Health Service Corps loan repayment program to include mental health and substance use disorder providers has benefitted rural Colorado and where we still need to incentivize clinicians to serve. I will cut the red tape that prevents good providers from moving to Colorado and serving our communities, and I will work to improve reciprocity of licensing for all health care providers so that Colorado is a more attractive place to base a practice. I will also implement Governor Hickenlooper’s plan to use Medicaid funds to pay for substance use disorders and behavioral health services in an effort to fight the opioid epidemic. This will help increase the availability of treatment, and in-patient beds, for those combating a mental health crisis and substance use disorders. And finally, I will use the lessons learned through the Colorado State Innovation Model to further increase Coloradans’ access to integrated physical and behavioral healthcare services. “Whole person care” – or treating physical and mental health together – makes seeking care easier and improves the overall health of patients, which could ultimately lower costs of care.
Do you support additional state investments in affordable housing with supportive services for people with mental health or substance use disorders?
- Yes: I will support housing programs and efforts that have proven successful in reducing homelessness and increasing access to mental health care for Coloradans.