Healthcare, mental health reform key topics in governor's race

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Mental health care has come into focus in recent times because of tragedies both in the Grand Valley and across the nation.

Experts say one thing they really want to focus on is prevention.

"I'm glad we are in the spotlight and I'm glad people are talking about how do we expand access to behavioral health and what should we be doing from a policy perspective," said Sharon Raggio, the CEO of Mind Springs Health.

The policy perspective was one of many topics at a health care roundtable at Mind Springs Health in Grand Junction Tuesday with Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis and his newly announced lieutenant governor candidate Dianne Primavera.

"Mental health is going to be front and center because it really is a driver of cost and the tragedy of human lives," Polis said.

In Mesa County, where the suicide rate is nearly double the national average, adding more beds for those in a mental health crisis is coming along. The new West Springs Hospital, which will double the number of beds for mental health care in the region, is now expected to be ready ahead of schedule in December, and under budget.

But there is also a push to allow for more help in the growing telemedicine field.

"People can have easy access from their smartphone or their iPad," Raggio explained. "They can be at home and they can see a psychiatrist, a mental health professional."

Polis' Republican opponent is Walker Stapleton. His team said Polis' overall single-payer health care plan was rejected overwhelmingly by voters in 2016 and is committed to instituting reforms that will actually fix our healthcare system and bring about real relief to Coloradans.

Stapleton said in an interview with Colorado Public Radio in May that he supported Senate Bill 270, which enhanced mental health services in the state.

You can learn more about the views of Polis and Stapleton by clicking the links below...

Polis for Colorado
Walker Stapleton for Governor

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