From Our CEO

For the past several months, the team here at the Colorado Health Institute has been involved in a large, state-wide project, the State Innovation Model, or SIM, as it’s widely known. It’s a complex and multi-faceted undertaking that begins with a simple premise. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) has challenged states to develop “model tests” that accelerate the path toward lower costs, higher quality and better health outcomes.

The idea is that states can develop local solutions and, for the ones that work, CMMI can scale those innovations across the country.

Colorado originally applied a year ago. While our grant was not accepted, we received $2 million in funding to think through our test, engage the community and write a plan that captures our ideas for transforming the health care system.

As a result of all of this work, Governor Hickenlooper this fall will submit a stronger, more articulate vision of our Innovation Plan and a description of the model test.

So what’s the big idea we are developing?  It’s focused on integrating behavioral health into primary care practices at a system-wide level. CMMI challenges us to think big – as in how can this model quickly grow so that 80 percent of Coloradans have access to a truly integrated primary care practice.

It’s a tall order, and we’ve made considerable progress.  CHI is part of the management team led by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing that also includes the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Center for Improving Value in Health Care. Together, we are coordinating efforts around three central deliverables:

  • The Colorado Innovation Plan, which lays a solid foundation of our vision for a healthier Colorado and profiles our programs, activities and ideas to get there.
  • Our demonstrated stakeholder engagement strategies, which will indicate Colorado’s can-do  nature and our ability to cooperate on important initiatives
  • The behavioral health and primary care integration model test, which will be explained in realistic terms with a focus on how to operationalize the concept of integrating behavioral and physical health.

Our plan will be strong, our attitude is cooperative and we’ll have a solid model to test.  Look for all of this at the end of November.

Michele Lueck is the president and CEO of CHI.