Legislation–part of the legislature’s behavioral health package–invests $125 million in pandemic relief funds to expand access to services and save Coloradans money on health care
DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills into law that will increase access to behavioral health care. HB22-1281 creates a $90 million grant program to fund critical services, and HB22-1302 extends resources to providers to help them offer both primary and mental health care.
Community Behavioral Health Continuum of Care Gap Grants: HB22-1281, sponsored by Representatives Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez and Naquetta Ricks and Senators Faith Winter and Bob Rankin, will ensure Coloradans across the state — including children, youth and families — have access to the behavioral health care they need.
“Colorado’s behavioral health crisis is being felt in every part of our state, but each community’s needs are different,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “The legislation the governor signed today will invest $90 million in federal funds to expand access to care by providing resources to nonprofits and providers to meet the needs in their communities. The bill also dedicates at least $15 million of this funding to go towards substance use disorder treatment providers to increase our state’s capacity to provide the care people need.”
“Accessing behavioral health care in our state can be complex and difficult, making it challenging for Coloradans to get the care they need to maintain their health and well-being,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “We recognize that different parts of the state have different needs when it comes to addressing mental health and substance use disorders, which is why this critical investment will address these inequities as we continue working toward building a healthier Colorado for all.”
“The legislation Governor Polis signed today will provide communities with resources to fill critical gaps in care so that more Coloradans can access the services they need to thrive,” said Rep. Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora. “This legislation will increase access to care in communities all across the state and save people money on behavioral health care. Under the legislation, nonprofits and providers can seek funding to treat more patients and offer additional services that aren’t available in their communities.”
The law invests $90 million in federal funds for local governments and nonprofit organizations to implement innovative, community-based programs with the goal of filling regional gaps across the entire spectrum of behavioral health services and transforming behavioral health outcomes for families, children and youth living in Colorado. The law sets aside at least $15 million of the total $90 million grant funding to prioritize substance use disorder treatment and services.
Integrating Primary Care and Behavioral Health Care: HB22-1302, sponsored by Representatives Chris Kennedy and Perry Will and Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis and Kevin Priola, invests $35 million to improve behavioral health outcomes by better integrating physical and behavioral health care.
“One of the easier ways we can increase access to behavioral health care and save Coloradans money is by bringing together primary care and mental health care under the same facility or practice,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “I’m proud the governor signed my legislation to invest $35 million in federal funds to help providers integrate physical and behavioral health care. This will especially help in rural areas where people have to drive long distances to get care. The advancement of alternative payment models in House Bill 1325, which the governor also signed today, will help sustain these investments over the long run.”
“Anyone who has tried to access behavioral health care in Colorado knows how hard it is to navigate the system as it is today,” said Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder County. “That’s why we’re working to streamline how we deliver care and meet people where they are before a crisis occurs. This new law will ensure that primary care physicians are better equipped to connect patients with the appropriate behavioral health services they need.”
The law will provide grants to primary care practices to integrate behavioral health care into their clinical models, helping Coloradans access whole person care and early behavioral health interventions before a crisis. The transformational investment will increase access to mental health and substance use disorder screening and treatment and help coordinate referrals to other levels of care.