House Republican discusses bipartisan behavioral health priorities for the 2022 session
Representative Mary Bradfield (R – Fountain) is a member of the Colorado House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee and the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee, as of Jan. 11. She also is a member of the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force.
In this Q&A, Bradfield talks with State of Reform about the importance of behavioral health in the 2022 legislative session and some of her other health policy priorities for the session, especially in an election year.
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State of Reform: What are some of your top health care priorities that you hope to achieve in the 2022 legislative session?
Rep. Mary Bradfield: “Since I was a member of the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force, my biggest priority is seeing the things that we decided [as a task force] that needed to be done, actually become [implemented] and put into place. We need something that is going to start working correctly. We need to completely reform the way we handle behavioral health in Colorado. Too many people are not getting access to care. So that’s my biggest health care priority.”
SOR: Are there any other health care priorities from your caucus?
MB: “As a caucus, we are pretty dedicated in trying to stop some of the bills that the other side of the aisle wants to pass that we see are either another burden of taxes or fees. These bills would be a burden on middle class families and on the public safety of our community. So the party’s priority is to stop those bills as much as possible.”
SOR: What do you expect to see in the 2022 general session? What do you think might get passed and not passed?
MB: “I believe that many legislators will adapt their bills so that they are palatable to far more people than just their side of the aisle. That is true for both sides because it is an election year for every single representative–unless they are term limited. Everyone–all 65 of us–will have an election, and therefore, we know here in Colorado that we cannot just look at our party for the votes. We must look at the unaffiliated and they have some very strong opinions.”
SOR: What came out of the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force and how do you think the accomplishments there will affect the 2022 session?
MB: “I think one of the most important accomplishments of that task force was the acknowledgement from everybody that something had to change–that ‘business as usual’ is not working. There are too many people who do not have access to care and yet, that is not a big problem to solve. It is just simply a communication issue.
We have to acknowledge that the rural areas of Colorado–where there are not many people– have the same behavioral health problems that people in the city do, and they deserve access to care. They should not have to wait six weeks to get an appointment. However, just the acknowledgement that things needed to be changed is huge.
We [legislators] will work together and we understand that we have the power and the ability to make people’s lives better. If we keep that in mind and worry less about what we can personally benefit, I think we’d be a much better state.”
This interview was edited for clarity and length.