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Cities, States Taking on Mental Health Funding

The Affordable Care Act mandated that insurance companies cover mental health services at parity with medical care. But loopholes in the ACA and other federal laws have let some plans limit or exclude mental health coverage.


So state and local governments have begun taking on the issue themselves. California; Larimer County, Colorado; and Seattle are among those that have enacted tax increases to provide funding for mental health services. And a 2018 RAND Corporation report found that California’s tax had expanded such services to 130,000 individuals in Los Angeles County alone.


In November Denver appears to have become the first major city to approve a tax increase for mental health services via the ballot box, with the approval of a measure imposing a 0.25 percent sales tax hike. The increase is expected to generate $45 million in its first year.


“That is an absolute game-changer,” said Carl Clark, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver. “Forty-five million dollars is a significant amount of money to create more programs and build more capacity for our existing programs that are working well.” (GOVERNING)