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Colorado Access Contracts with CuraWest to Bring Colorado Residents with Medicaid New Addiction Treatment Option

AURORA, Colo. —  Colorado Access announced an in-network contract with CuraWest, a Guardian Recovery Network facility that removes a significant financial barrier many Colorado residents face when seeking treatment for substance use disorders.

Coloradans cite inadequate insurance coverage and absence of affordable treatment services as the largest preventative factors they face in receiving behavioral healthcare services. The 2019 Colorado Health Access Survey found that over 2.5% of Coloradans 18 and older (95,000 individuals) did not get treatment or counseling to address their dependencies, predominantly because of financial barriers.

Brian Tierney, CuraWest’s executive director, shared that the new contract is in line with the organization’s mission to help all those suffering with substance use disorders (SUDs). “Working with Colorado Access and CCHA allows us to serve more people in need of life-saving care before it’s too late.”

Rob Bremer, PhD, vice president of behavioral health for Colorado Access, adds, “Colorado Access is excited to add CuraWest to our network of providers. Their work to expand SUD services will be extremely beneficial to Coloradans with Medicaid.”

In 2022, approximately 25% of Coloradans (1.73 million individuals) received healthcare through Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program). However, very few privately funded treatment centers in the Denver area accept coverage from regional accountable entities (RAEs), like Colorado Access. CuraWest is unique in that it is a privately-run treatment center that offers a highly individualized curriculum of care and works with RAEs in Denver and surrounding areas.

“As the number of Colorado residents covered by Health First Colorado increases, so does the need for quality providers that accept their coverage,” says Joshua Foster, chief operating officer at Guardian Recovery Network. “Never has there been a more important time for providers, who often exclusively serve commercially-insured patients, to expand their services to those covered by state-funded insurances. Since its start, Guardian Recovery Network has worked diligently to provide care to every person in need of substance use treatment. We are thrilled we can now serve more Coloradans.”

The Colorado Opioid Epidemic

Becoming in-network with Colorado Access also allows CuraWest the opportunity to further combat the statewide opioid epidemic. Drug overdose death rates have increased dramatically in Colorado. Most of these deaths are linked to fentanyl, a synthetic opioid roughly 100 times more potent than morphine. Colorado saw a near 70% increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses from 2020 to 2021, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Opioid overdose deaths have increased year after year since the pandemic,” says Foster. “Providing Colorado Access and CCHA-covered Coloradans with a high level, step-down treatment program means fewer addiction cases and fewer untimely overdose deaths.”

Fentanyl is found in both powder and pill form and is frequently mixed with other substances like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. Controlled substances found in Colorado are rarely pure, putting even novice and first-time users at risk.

“There is an increased sense of urgency attached to the Colorado opioid epidemic,” Tierney says. “Waiting to ‘hit rock bottom’ is no longer an option; using fentanyl once can result in a fatal overdose. Thresholds need to be raised and barriers to care must be rapidly eliminated. Removing the financial barrier to treatment is essential.”

About Colorado Access

As the largest and most experienced public sector health plan in the state, Colorado Access is a nonprofit organization that works beyond just navigating health services. The company focuses on meeting members’ unique needs by partnering with providers and community organizations to provide better personalized care through measurable results. Their broad and deep view of regional and local systems allows them to stay focused on members’ care while collaborating on measurable and economically sustainable systems that serve them better. Learn more at