Testifying before the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, Colorado Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) Commissioner Dr. Morgan Medlock said the agency’s strategic plan for transforming the state’s behavioral healthcare system will be released on Jan. 31st.
Medlock appeared before the committee to give an update on the BHA’s work since launching in July, outlining some of the details of its plan for establishing statewide comprehensive care coordination and implementing priority reforms over the next three years.
“The BHA is committed to listening to the people of Colorado first, establishing processes that support people and then providing state processes and systems that perform for people and to meet their needs,” Medlock said. “We define a co-creation and authentic partnership as firstly acting responsibly in the best interest of all people in Colorado.”
Medlock highlighted the work that the BHA has already accomplished despite being only 20% operational around its six pillars of reform: access, affordability, accountability, whole-person care, workforce, and local guidance.
In September, the agency released its strategic workforce development plan to strengthen the behavioral health workforce by partnering with the community. BHA also launched OwnPaththe state’s first online integrated behavioral healthcare directory that assists in finding providers by zip code.
The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) and the Division of Insurance are working with the BHA on the adoption of payment models that incentivize the safety net system to meet the needs of Coloradans. To support the safety net, the BHA and HCPF will launch a new mobile crisis response benefit under Medicaid in July of this year. The agency will also dole out $130 million in ARPA community grants aimed at Home and Community-Based Services in Colorado.
Medlock emphasized the importance of community engagement and the diversity of its Advisory Council in informing the development of an equity-focused regulatory structure. The BHA has been engaged with the community members and the State Board of Human Services in the process of rewriting the rules and standards for the continuum of care to ensure system accountability and care coordination.
The agency has conducted more than 26 stakeholder sessions and interviewed over 300 people concerning its new behavioral health administrative service organizations (BHASO).
Under its legislative mandatethe BHA is required to establish regionally based BHASOs, which Medlock explained will have trained regional representatives assisting with the navigation of and connection to local services, but not the provision of care itself.
“We are still the agency that is directing the BHASO on what our standards of care are,” Medlock said. “We are still the central agency that is writing rules and standards for the providers across our system. We’re still the agency that is resolving grievances, and in some cases, such as Medicaid and [the] Division of Insurance. They have their own ombudsman offices, and so we’re leveraging those ombudsman offices. We’re leveraging those authorities to give people answers when they deserve it.
And so we’ve published our first grievance policy that’s on our website. We have until 2024 to develop a cross-agency grievance resolution process. We’re still the agency that people can count on for standards of quality of care for data reporting, for performance dashboards, and most importantly, for building this network government approach.”
That state networked approach is expected to be finalized soon. The BHA has concluded 8 of its 13 formal with state agencies in an effort to build a networked and cross-agency behavioral health support system agreements aligned in mission and method. Medlock said she expects to have the remaining five agreements signed within the coming months.