Bills to Address Colorado’s Behavioral Health Crisis Win Committee Approval

Legislation includes more than $140 million to expand access to behavioral health care for Colorado youth and adults

DENVER, CO – The House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee today unanimously passed two bills to expand access to behavioral health services for adults and youth. These bills were developed based on recommendations from the state’s Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force and will invest $140 million to build a healthier Colorado. 

“We’ve made it a top priority to expand access to behavioral health care, and that’s what this transformational bill will do,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales Gutierrez, D-Denver. “With these federal funds, we have a once-in a generation opportunity to significantly expand behavioral heath care and address the cries our state is facing. This legislation provides $90 million directly to local governments, nonprofits and community-based programs to expand access to behavioral health care and fill critical gaps across the state so that more Coloradans can seek the care they need to thrive.”

“This transformational $90 million investment will lay the foundation for a more accessible, affordable, and inclusive system of behavioral health care in our state,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora. “Our behavioral health care crisis will not be solved overnight, but with these funds, we have a unique opportunity to address some of the most pressing concerns in our state. Every community is different and has different circumstances and different needs. This bill encourages collaboration, uplifts local solutions, and ensures that funding reaches every corner of Colorado and that no community is left behind.”

Community Behavioral Health Continuum of Care Gap Grants: HB22-1281 sponsored by Representatives Gonzales-Gutierrez and Naquetta Ricks, will ensure Coloradans across the state — including children, youth and families — have access to the behavioral health care they need. This bill will invest $90 million in grant funds for local governments and nonprofit organizations to implement innovative, community-based programs with the goal of filling regional gaps across the continuum of care and transforming behavioral health outcomes for families, children and youth living in Colorado. The bill passed unanimously. 

“Colorado doesn’t have nearly enough long-term mental health residential bed capacity, leading many families to send their children out of state for care. This situation doesn’t meet the needs of our state’s children or our families, which is why we are investing $54 million to increase youth and family residential and outpatient care in Colorado,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “This bill will expand mental health and substance use disorder treatment services for Colorado’s youth and families to help address our state’s youth mental health crisis, which we know was exacerbated by the pandemic.”

Youth and Family Residential Behavioral Health Care: HB22-1283 sponsored by Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Mary Bradfield, will make it easier for families and youth to access residential and outpatient care in Colorado. Right now, Colorado does not have adequate capacity to serve children and youth with complex behavioral health needs. As a result, too many children are sent out-of-state to access treatment, far away from their families and support network. This bill will invest $54M to support intensive youth and family residential and outpatient care, ensuring that children, youth, and families can access behavioral health treatment and services they need right here in Colorado. The bill passed unanimously. 

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