top of page

April 29, 2024

House Passes Bipartisan Bills to Expand Behavioral Health Care and SUD Treatment

DENVER, CO – The House today passed two bipartisan bills from legislative interim committees to support children and youth in the foster care system and expand treatment options for Coloradans with Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

“The need for more residential treatment centers and beds is clear, especially for our foster children and youth with complex behavioral health care needs,” said Rep. Mary Young, D-Greeley, sponsor of HB24-1038. “Our bipartisan legislation is a product of the child welfare interim committee and works to strengthen the system of care specifically by increasing the availability of residential care settings and investing in more treatment beds. We’re also taking steps to reduce bed reliance by increasing treatment options for foster care youth and assuring staff have the training they need. This bill works to boost Colorado’s behavioral health care resources and streamline care to our foster children and youth who need it the most.” 

HB24-1038, also sponsored by Representative Brandi Bradley, R-Roxborough, outlines a new system of care designed for youth and children with complex behavioral health needs who are in foster care, or at risk of out-of-home placement. Specifically, it would require state agencies to create a care plan that includes the implementation of a standardized assessment tool, intensive-care coordination, increased supportive services and expanded access to treatment in foster care. HB24-1038 passed by a vote of 57 to 6.

The bill aims to make it easier for youth with complex behavioral health needs to receive the care they need, when they need it. In order to meet the needs of foster youth, the bill creates a training academy to develop high-quality residential child care providers who will ensure effective, safe, and responsible care. The legislation requires the state to monitor quality standards for residential child care providers at all levels of care.This bill originated from the Child Welfare System Interim Study Committee and was unanimously approved by the committee in October 2023.

“Too many of our neighbors are dying from preventable overdoses, this bill expands treatment options in our state so more people struggling with substance use disorder can receive the care they need,” said Rep. Chris deGruy Kennedy, D-Lakewood, sponsor of HB24-1045. “During the interim, I worked alongside a bipartisan group of legislators to identify important policy changes that would help us address our state’s growing opioid overdose crisis. As a result, we’ve crafted this bill to  streamline treatment for Coloradans who need it the most, including in the rural corners of our state and those in jail or prison. The demand for substance use disorder treatment has outpaced what is available in our state – expanding treatment options will undoubtedly save lives.” 

HB24-1045, also sponsored by Representative Ryan Armagost, R-Berthoud, would expand treatment options for Coloradans with SUD. This bill passed by a vote of 52 to 11.

Specifically, this bill would: 

  • Direct the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) to apply for federal Medicaid waivers (1115) to cover health care services for people in jail or prison and to cover a partial-hospitalization level of care in our communities

  • Reduce insurance barriers to accessing substance use disorder treatment

  • Expand the treatment workforce by increasing clinical supervision opportunities for addiction counselors under qualified licensed professional counselors,licensed clinical social workers, and licensed marriage and family therapists

  • Authorize pharmacists to, prescribe medical-assisted treatment (MAT)

  • Create a contingency management grant program, funding the best evidence-based practices to help people with stimulant use disorders stay sober

  • Invest in behavioral health diversion programs to provide adults charged with a minor offense a substance use treatment option

  • Continue the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee through the 2025 interim session 

During the 2023 interim, ten bipartisan lawmakers served on the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Study Committee. This interim committee advanced four bills, including HB24-1045, for the general assembly to consider this year. These bills would bolster prevention efforts, improve treatment programs, promote harm reduction strategies, and support Coloradans in recovery to prevent overdose deaths and save lives.

bottom of page