From 2015-2019, the Keystone Policy Center worked with the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council (CBHC) and four Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC) who were participating in a Bi-Directional Integration Demonstration and Practice-Based Research Pilot Program. Through this program, overseen by the Colorado State Innovation Model (SIM) Office, the CMHCs piloted models of bi-directional integrated care by integrating primary care and prevention services into the community behavioral health setting. The successes, challenges, and lessons learned from this pilot program will inform the future of comprehensive integrated care in mental health centers across the state.
“The reason it’s really important to maintain integration for both the physical and mental health side is that it changes people’s lives. How we organize care around people will transform individuals, our community, and our state,” said Lorez Meinhold, senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center.
Colorado SIM was a Governor’s Office initiative to support health care providers in integrating behavioral and physical health care and gaining the skills they need to succeed with alternative payment models. Colorado SIM was built on the strong evidence that treating physical health, mental health and substance use disorders together reduces or avoids unnecessary health care costs and addresses the ever-increasing burden of chronic disease. Colorado SIM was created in December 2014 when Colorado was awarded up to $65 million in the form of a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The overarching goal of Colorado SIM was to improve the health of Coloradans by increasing access to integrated physical and behavioral healthcare services in coordinated community systems, with value-based payment structures, for 80 percent of state residents by 2019.
The Colorado SIM Office came to its planned close in July 2019 with stakeholders deploying an awareness campaign called Colorado is Ready. The website serves as an avenue for stakeholders to connect across sectors, read a “Readiness Report” on stakeholders’ capacity to advance integrated care, and to hear what other stakeholders are saying about integrated care.