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Waitlists shorten for some child behavioral health providers as Colorado Division of Insurance issues new recommendations

Waitlists shorten for some families as state issues new health recommendations
Waitlists shorten for some families as state issues new health recommendations 03:17

Two mothers, both with children trying to access mental health care, are both stuck on waitlists with hundreds of other families across Colorado.

"I am so desperate to find care for her," one mother, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

"I shouldn't have to wait until my daughter is in complete crisis mode to unlock care, Nicole Vinson added.


They shared their stories with CBS News Colorado in April and now, change is coming.

"Our waitlists now are down to 25 and we have families that are getting seen and getting services," said Blair Skinner, director of the Child Wellness Place in Broomfield.

She was one of the first providers to raise concerns, claiming private insurance companies -- specifically Anthem, one of the state's largest insurers -- were not only slow to bring new staff into network but wouldn't allow what are essentially "residents" to take patients, which differs from other companies.

We asked the state if that needed to change.

"In terms of the pre-licensure work, I think that is one really interesting and potentially creative solution," Cara Cheevers, director of behavioral health programs for the Colorado Division of Insurance, told CBS News Colorado's Karen Morfitt at the time.

Since that discussion, Cheevers said they have issued a formal recommendation that all companies allow supervisory billing, launched a new transparency tool to help providers understand policies and created a new way for reporting concerns.

"The conversation we had certainly highlighted certain issues and it really added to this collective conversation that we are having; 'how does a consumer get the care they need when it's needed," Cheevers said.

Skinner says Anthem is now allowing patients to see some relicensed staff but not all.

"This is the way that we replenish the field for any kind of medical. That's what they do in hospitals, that's what doctors, do that's how they learn and it's been really great to see that and really great having our waitlist decreased" Skinner said.


While she says the movement they've seen over a matter of months has been a tremendous help, her hope is that it's only the first step.

"We have made leaps, leaps in the right direction for sure we are not all the way there, so we are not going to stop pushing," she said.

While an Anthem spokesperson says all of their changes were shared with the Colorado Department of Insurance, she shared the following statement as well:

"Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Colorado is now reimbursing for services provided by pre-licensed clinical behavioral health providers who have at least a master's level education, are pursuing professional licensure and comply with all applicable policies including supervision by a licensed and credentialed in-network provider.  Bringing these providers into our network gives our members another option for care."

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