Cigna, Colorado insurers team up to enhance behavioral healthcare

Amid an array of mental health issues in Colorado, six health insurers have joined forces to ensure that patients with behavioral problems have access to quality care.

Cigna and Rocky Mountain Health Plans are among the insurers that have been collaborating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, which incentivizes payers to help strengthen primary care, Hospital & Health Networks magazine reports.

Using the CMS initiative as a model, the Colorado payers are creating their own individual plans to bridge the gap between behavioral health and medical care.

"Our intent was not to create a one-size-fits-all, value-based payment reform strategy for the effort," Vatsala Pathy, director of the State Innovation Model, tells the publication. "But really to move the Colorado market further along the continuum, away from fee-for-service toward value-based payment structures in a way that supported and bolstered the integration of behavioral health and primary care."

The insurers offer incentivized payments to providers for improved care coordination, as well as establish phone lines to help doctors connect with behavioral specialists.

Additionally, the insurers hope to establish an online data-sharing tool to help improve the delivery of care throughout the state.

While Rocky Mountain Health Plans admits it was difficult to collaborate with its competitors at first, the insurers were able to band together, especially after seeing success from the CMS initiative--every $1 invested in primary care translated to $5 in savings down the line, the article notes.

The news out of Colorado comes on the heels of recent findings that suggest many health insurers continue to avoid covering certain mental health-related costs even after Congress passed the parity law seven years ago.

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