Mile high specialty care network

One-in-three Denver residents are insured through Medicaid (Health First Colorado). However, there aren’t nearly enough physician specialists who accept patients insured through this program to provide needed care. The Colorado Health Institute estimates that Medicaid-insured Coloradans forgo an estimated 486,000 needed appointments – every year. The Mile High Specialty Care Network is a program that seeks to reduce medical burdens, track referrals and increase the capacity of appointments. Our goal is to reduce social and economic barriers, so primary care and specialty care physicians can better meet the growing specialty care waiting lists for Medicaid patients.

As part of our collaboration efforts to find solutions to accessing care, the Mile High Specialty Care Network is a part of the Kaiser Permanente ASCENT (Access to Specialty Care Engagement Network) cohort. Working with the other organizations that are part of the cohort, we are implementing innovative strategies and models to address specialty care access through solutions such as e-consults and online referral networks. To find out more, please contact Vicente Cardona at or 559-375-6275.

Integrated Physical and Behavioral Care

Integrated Physical and Behavioral Care

This working group plans to provide MHHA members and primary care practices with education and assistance in implementing integrated care models, seeking to increase the proliferation of these models in Colorado.

The overall purpose of this group is to provide a table around which diverse organizations already doing integrated care, as well as those wishing to initiate integrated care into their practices. We coordinate these activities, assist medical and behavioral health providers to implement new models, and contribute to statewide developments related to integrated care. For more information, please contact Stephanie Salazar-Rodriguez at


The High Needs Patients Workgroup is focused on connecting more patients to primary care in order to ensure appropriate and preventative care to those with high needs, avoiding frequent misuse of emergency departments and expensive hospital re-admittance. 

The overall purpose of this group is to facilitate improvement in care by identifying gaps in services, identifying redundant and overlapping services, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and improving metro-wide communication among organizations caring for high utilizing persons. Based on the results of a data-sharing pilot among workgroup members, current efforts are focused on identifying very-high utilizers within emergency departments in real-time and implementing protocols to get them connected to care.  For more information, please contact Karen Trautman at

Emerging Issues

Addressing Immigrant Health. Legal status and country of origin are often overlooked as social and economic barriers to health, also known as social determinants of health. There are widespread reports about the “chilling effect” affecting access to healthcare and other social support programs by people who are immigrants and refugees. However, there has been little research into understanding the problem or developing strategies to address the issue. A survey of MHHA members revealed a notable decrease in appointments made by people from the immigrant/refugee communities, along with increases in cancellations, no-shows, and requests for mental health services starting in 2017. MHHA then convened community members to learn about the specific reasons for the decline in seeking care and barriers to accessing care, as well as ideas for solutions. Using this information, MHHA developed strategies for responding to the problem, notably focusing on the training of front desk staff. 

Ensuring Access to Safe and Healthy Housing. Recognizing that patients’ health suffers when they live in unsafe and/or unstable housing, MHHA brought together healthcare providers and legal experts to pilot a Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) in Denver. The MLP model was pioneered by Dr. Barry Zuckerman at Boston University in 1993. Since then, MLPs have integrated legal and social service assistance as a vital component of patient care in order to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable individuals, children, and families. The Denver MLP aims to satisfy an unmet need in the Denver metro area by focusing on linking health and legal professionals to address housing instability and safety. MHHA also hosted a regional MLP convening, and is working to coordinate different MLP efforts across different systems.