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Friday, April 05, 2019

RPC Meeting - Denver, CO

PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN HEALTH POLICY: Pitfalls and Opportunities

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 7:30 AM - 2:00 PM (Mountain Time)

Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
650 15th Street
Room Capitol 5, 4th floor
Denver, Colorado 80202
United States
(303) 436-1234

Have questions? Contact us:

This event is free for affiliates, associate members, RPC funders, and legislators. 

Event Summary

On July 19, 2017, Mental Health America (MHA) convened its second of four Regional Policy Council (RPC) Meetings this year entitled Pivotal Moments in Health Care Policy: Pitfalls and Opportunities. Held concurrently with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, July’s meeting was opened by Vice President of Mental Health Systems and Advocacy, Debbie Plotnick.

Plotnick kicked off the full day meeting with a Legislative Awards Breakfast honoring state legislators, nominated by MHA affiliates across the country, for leadership on mental health and substance use legislation that embodies MHA’s Before Stage Four philosophy. MHA encourages the United States to address mental illness as with other chronic diseases by prevention, or early intervention reversing symptoms before crisis. Mental Health Champion Awards were presented to Senator Beth Martinez Humenik and Representative Pete Lee both from Colorado, Senator Nancy Barto of Arizona, and Representative John Nygren of Wisconsin. (Rep. Nygren currently serves as chair of the ALEC Health and Human Services Committee Taskforce.)

Speakers invited to the meeting included Steve McCaffrey of Mental Health America of Indiana, Kathryn Jantz of the Steadman Group, Gretchen Hammer of Colorado Medicaid, and Shruti Kulkarni of the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence alongside Mark Smith of Da Vinci Group.

Following lunch, MHA’s affiliate panel highlighted the work of three states on Medicaid and other issues. Ben Harrington of MHA of East Tennessee, Annalee Gully of MHA of Greater Houston, and Dan Aune of MHA Montana presented to an audience of legislators, affiliates, advocates and industry partners. Slideshows of select presentations are provided below.


Tuesday, July 18th

6:00 pm - 9:00 pm Affiliate-Only Dinner

Guest Speakers: County Sheriffs of Colorado Executive Director Sheriff Chris Johnson on sheriffs’ role, legislative initiatives; Public Policy Director of MHA of Texas Gyl Switzer on Medicaid reconnection

Wednesday, July 19th

7:30 am

Breakfast begins

8:00 am - 8:45 am

Award presentations honoring state legislative mental health champions

9:00 am - 9:45 am

Steve McCaffrey, MHA of Indiana, New directions Medicaid model waiver

9:45 am - 10:30 am

Kathryn Jantz, the Steadman Group, Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and Accountable Health Communities (AHC) 101

10:30 am - 11:15 am

Gretchen Hammer, Colorado Director of Medicaid on Innovative Colorado Medicaid Programs; Moe Keller on Colorado Accountable Care Organization Grant Phase II

11:15 am - 12:00 pm

Mark Smith, Da Vinci Group and Shruti Kulkarni, Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence an interactive conversation on perspectives of American Legislative Exchange (ALEC) and the Trump Administration

12:00 pm - 12:30 pm


12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

MHA Affiliate-Panel Highlighting State Experience Avoiding Pitfalls: Tennessee on dis-enrolling Medicaid enrollees (Ben Harrington), Texas on Legislative Study Commission (Annalee Gulley), Montana on its Medicaid work program.

1:30 pm

Closing/Wrap Up


On-site Contacts: Caren Howard, Debbie Plotnick


MHA aligns its RPC Policy Meetings with the meetings of major state executive and legislative membership groups. The objective for meeting is to work as trusted partners with policymakers to improve and inform communication and dialogue among them and mental health advocates, providers, community collaborators, and industry associates, and to respond to a dynamic national environment by identifying opportunities for state action to advance mental health. Each meeting includes a reception honoring mental health champions from all levels of state government. 

The upcoming meeting addresses challenges to the states that will emerge out of the changing landscape in Washington. Both in and outside of the meetings, the RPC works continuously to strengthen a "boots on the ground" coalition to protect and expand upon bipartisan policies on behalf of people with mental illness, including:

  • Mental health and addiction services covered at parity in all public and private insurance plans;
  • Affordable, accessible, and continuous insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions;
  • Fair federal funding and flexibility in Medicaid that allows people to access the most current and effective treatments and supports leading to recovery;
  • Improved coordination and integration of care, including using peers as essential members of care and support teams; and
  • Ending the use of jails and prisons as custodial care facilities for people with behavioral illnesses