House Passes Bills to Increase Access to Behavioral Health, Boost Rural Hospitals, and Save People Money on Health Care

DENVER, CO –  The House today passed four bipartisan bills that increase access to behavioral health care, support rural hospitals, boost Colorado’s health care workforce, and save people money on health care.

Saving Coloradans Money on Health Care:  SB22-200, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Matt Soper, passed by a vote of 53-12. It creates a $10 million Rural Provider Access and Affordability Stimulus Grant Program to provide grants to rural hospitals to increase access to health care and save Coloradans money. 

“Rural hospitals and clinics face unique challenges and serve people who often have to travel long distances to get the care they need,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “The legislation we passed today will help these rural facilities and clinics reduce costs, stay in business and provide more services, including additional telehealth options, which will expand access to care and save people money in rural communities in our state.”   

SB22-200 will improve affordability by expanding access to telehealth services, supporting coordination and referral mechanisms between providers, and enabling coordinated and shared care management between rural providers.  The bill also provides millions to improve access through extended hours for primary care and behavioral health settings, dual track emergency department management that offer both urgent and emergency care, telemedicine, and the expansion of in-demand inpatient services such as long-term care, skilled nursing facility recovery days, and behavioral healthcare.

Expanding the Behavioral Health Care Workforce: SB22-181, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives Lisa Cutter and Tonya Van Beber, passed the House by a vote of 46-19. This bill would direct the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) to develop and implement a workforce plan to invest $72 million to bolster, diversify and stabilize the state’s behavioral health care workforce. 

“A lack of providers is one of the most significant barriers to expanding behavioral health care in Colorado,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County. “By investing $72 million to increase the number of behavioral health care providers in Colorado, we’ll make it easier and cheaper for people to access the care they need. This bill will encourage more providers to enter behavioral health care and reduce administrative burdens to help us increase capacity and serve more people.”

Care Coordination Infrastructure: SB22-177, sponsored by Representatives Brianna Titone and Mary Bradfield, passed the House by a vote of 52-13. This bill appropriates $12.2 million to improve Colorado’s statewide care coordination infrastructure to better serve Coloradans seeking behavioral health care.

“This bill will make it easier to navigate and access behavioral health care services in Colorado by improving our statewide care coordination infrastructure so patients and providers can save time and money,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “The system that delivers care should not be a barrier to accessing care. This bill will ensure patients receive care faster and helps providers cut through red tape.”

The legislation requires the BHA to better train new and existing behavioral health care navigators on available services, improving connections for individuals seeking care with the support they need. The bill also seeks to cut red tape for providers and navigators so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time helping Coloradans in need.

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