A nearly quarter-of-a-million-dollar grant aims to increase the number of mental health and substance abuse providers who accept Medicaid across southern Colorado.
The $242,758 grant from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing seeks to replicate the success of a similar program that showed signs of promise across the Pikes Peak region. The program provided technical assistance to leery providers, ultimately leading dozens of additional clinicians to start applying to receive Medicaid patients.
The effort comes as many behavioral health care providers continue to resist accepting those patients — leaving people across rural parts of the state without access to much-needed care.
“What that really means for our community is that a lot of families without private insurance and experiencing poverty, they’re pretty limited in terms of providers accepting Medicaid,” said Julie Krow, executive director of El Paso County’s Department of Human Services. “And sometimes there’s wait lists and that sort of thing.”
The grant, which was awarded to the Department of Human Services, seeks to build on a similar grant last summer aimed at upping the Medicaid-accepting doctors and clinicians in the Pikes Peak region.
The previous $250,905 grant helped the county agency convince about five dozen providers in El Paso, Teller and Park counties to begin applying for Medicaid, Krow said. The process is long and arduous, and those providers are still working on finally being able to see Medicaid patients.
Many of those clinicians avoided accepting Medicaid patients due to concerns and fears about burdensome paperwork, as well as the complicated process for becoming credentialed, Krow said.
“You’d think that would be fairly easy, but it’s not,” Krow said.
A contractor, Left Hand Management, was hired by the county to help assuage those concerns and guide clinicians through the process — easing the transition and removing some of that bureaucratic burden, she said.
The latest grant aims to expand that work across much of southern Colorado — Bent, Costilla, Crowley, Otero, Pueblo, and Saguache counties.
“It’s a very good thing for children, youth and families in these counties, because they’ll have access to a bigger network of providers of behavioral health,” Krow said.