From Our CEO

Last week brought welcome news to Colorado. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services announced $730 million in second round funding for the State Innovation Model, or the SIM. Up to 12 states will be awarded grants ranging from $20 million to $100 million to test models of their own design and creation. 

The goal? To demonstrate how states can accelerate their movement toward the Triple Aim goals of better care and improved health outcomes while lowering costs. 

Colorado is, by any estimation, a front runner. Last year we were awarded a Model Design grant to better formulate our plan and test our model. The Colorado Health Institute was honored to serve on the SIM management team that oversaw this process.

Colorado has demonstrated its commitment to better health in two ways. First, we presented a solid vision of health for our state in the State Health Innovation Plan, affectionately known as the “SHIP.”  Second, Colorado has a robust and committed group of stakeholders to make our plan – and our model test – a reality.

The test itself is innovative and creative. Our goal is to bring to most Coloradans the ability to access care that integrates physical and behavioral health. The reasons that this kind of integration is our starting point are varied and comprehensive. In short, integration will accelerate our path to the Triple Aim because more Coloradans will get better care where and when they need it the most.

Specifically:

  • More than half of behavioral health needs are addressed in the primary care setting. Why not create a system where primary care practices are better supported to provide these services?
  • Behavioral health care will certainly help in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues and substance abuse issues. But importantly, behavioral health care can play a vital role in changing behavior associated with our most pressing health issue – the burden of chronic disease. This is the most important aspect of our model design.
  • Those of us with significant and persistent mental illness (SPMI) will also benefit, as primary care will be brought into mental health centers, again helping to make integrated care available to the majority of Coloradans.

We have waited with great expectation for the second round of funding. For the past six months, Colorado has been in a holding pattern as the funds wove their way through appropriations and clearance.

And here we are today with eight weeks to write a final grant application that will not only describe our Model Test but also demonstrate that we have the commitments and agreements from key stakeholders to test the model effectively.

Key stakeholders across Colorado can expect to hear from the SIM management team soon. The team has met all winter, preparing for the anticipated rush to submit a grant. The time is now to help create this opportunity for Colorado.

Let’s go, Colorado!

Michele Lueck is the president and CEO of CHI.