May 4, 2022

FOUR BILLS TO IMPROVE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH OUTCOMES WIN COMMITTEE APPROVAL

Legislation will invest nearly $190 million in federal pandemic relief funds to improve access to behavioral health resources in Colorado


DENVER, CO – The House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services and House Judiciary Committees gave approval to four bills to improve Coloradans’ access to behavioral health services. The legislation is based on recommendations from the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force and invests nearly $190 million in federal pandemic relief funds to build a healthier Colorado.

“Together, we’re making a $72 million investment to expand our behavioral health workforce so we can address staffing shortages, get patients access to the care they need and build a healthier Colorado,” said Rep. Lisa Cutter, D-Littleton, sponsor of SB22-181. “To meet the behavioral health needs of Coloradans, we are devoting the resources necessary to recruit, train and support psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and other behavioral health care workers in every community in our state.”

Behavioral Health Care Workforce: SB22-181, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Representatives Lisa Cutter and Tonya Van Beber passed the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee by a vote of 10 to 2. 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.

“Accessing behavioral health care services in Colorado shouldn’t be a challenge, but often people seeking care have trouble navigating the system,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, sponsor of SB22-177. “Our bipartisan bill invests more than $12 million to improve Colorado’s statewide care coordination infrastructure so patients can receive quality care faster. The behavioral health care system should not be a barrier for Coloradans seeking services, and our bill makes accessing services easier.”

Care Coordination Infrastructure: SB22-177, sponsored by Representatives Brianna Titone and Mary Bradfield, passed the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee by a vote of 11 to 1. This bill appropriates $12.2 million to improve Colorado’s statewide care coordination infrastructure to better serve Coloradans seeking behavioral health care.

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.

“Accessing treatment, recovery and behavioral health care services can be more difficult for those experiencing homelessness,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, sponsor of SB22-211. “We are utilizing federal pandemic relief dollars to create a space where Coloradans experiencing homelessness can access all types of health care, including behavioral health services, substance use disorder treatment as well as transitional housing This approach will help us meet our neighbors where they are and build stronger Colorado communities.”

Repurpose The Ridge View Campus: SB22-211, sponsored by Representatives Alex Valdez and Perry Will, passed the House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee by a vote of 7 to 5. This bill would invest $45 million to repurpose an unused, state-owned facility into a recovery oriented community to help those experiencing homelessness access services for physical and mental health and substance use disorder treatment along with transitional housing.

“Too many Coloradans struggling with substance use disorder and serious mental health issues are spending time behind bars when they should be receiving treatment,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, sponsor of SB22-196. “Our bill invests millions to divert people with behavioral health needs from the criminal justice system and connect them to critical services which will reduce recidivism and make it easier for Coloradans to receive the treatment they need.”

“Colorado’s behavioral health crisis is alarming and we need to invest in resources that get people the treatment, services and care they need,” said Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, sponsor of SB22-196. “Our bill approaches behavioral health intervention by diverting Coloradans away from the criminal justice system toward treatment. Behind bars, Coloradans’ behavioral health can worsen–let’s get them the treatment they need before they enter the criminal justice system in the first place.”

Early Intervention, Deflection, and Redirection from the Criminal Justice System Grant Program: SB22-196, sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Bacon and Adrienne Benavidez, passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 6 to 4. This bill would invest $62 million to help communities prevent people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders from becoming involved with the criminal justice system and instead, redirect individuals into appropriate treatment.