Monday was a big day, and I’m not just talking Duke and the Final Four. It was a big day for the Colorado Health Institute and our partners at The Denver Foundation. First and foremost, though, it was a big day for Colorado.
Over the past nine months, The Denver Foundation has partnered with the Colorado Health Institute on a brand new resource called the Colorado Health Access Fund (CHAF). The CHAF was established to improve access to health care for people in Colorado with high health care needs. The CHAF’s first Request for Proposals was launched on Monday.
Our team at the Colorado Health Institute supported the CHAF in a number of ways. We conducted an analytic deep dive of the challenges Coloradans face when accessing the health care they need. We examined a variety of data sources and interviewed experts. And we traversed the state to hear directly from communities. Finally, we gathered out analysis into a report titled “Flashpoints and Fixes.”
Our first takeaway was obvious: Colorado is not a bad place for road trips.
We also uncovered important regional variations in access to care. We heard how communities in southeastern Colorado, for example, face the compounded challenges of retaining health care providers in a rural and economically depressed area of the state.
We also learned about the innovative approaches that Coloradans are employing to address the challenges.
Most profound to me, however, was not the variation in access issues across the state, but the common themes. We repeatedly heard how the lack of health literacy, unavailability of transportation, a shortage of specialty care, and the high cost of services represented barriers to care.
Behavioral health services was one of the biggest themes. The challenges are big and complicated: from a statewide shortage of psychiatrists to ongoing stigma about mental health to the absence of detox facilities in rural Colorado.
And that’s where the Colorado Health Access Fund comes in. The CHAF is focused on increasing access to behavioral health care.
The CHAF complements the work already underway by Colorado’s behavioral health community, philanthropies, safety net providers and the State Innovation Model (SIM). It has the potential to benefit tens of thousands of high-need Coloradans.
We were honored to travel down the road for this important work. So with apologies to Willie Nelson:
On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
Addressin’ access issues for each Coloradan
I can’t wait to get on road again.