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May 25, 2022


Transformative legislation will help more people access the mental health & substance use disorder services they need

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bipartisan bills into law that aim to build a healthier Colorado by better connecting Coloradans with mental health conditions and substance use disorders with the appropriate care they need to maintain their health and well-being.

HB22-1278, sponsored by Representatives Mary Young, D-Greeley, and Rod Pelton, R-Cheyenne Wells, and Senators Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, will help increase and streamline access to behavioral health services through the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) for individuals with mental health conditions and substance use disorders.

“The new Behavioral Health Administration will make accessing behavioral health care more attainable for Coloradans across the state,” said Young. “The pandemic has only exacerbated the long standing challenges Coloradans have faced when trying to access the behavioral health care they need to thrive. This law breaks down barriers to accessing behavioral health care so Coloradans can get the care they need, when they need it.”

“Coloradans deserve easy access to the behavioral health care they need to maintain their health and well-being, but far too many folks are left with limited or no options for help,” Lee said. “Accessing our behavioral health system can be complex and difficult. The new Behavioral Health Administration will help streamline services for people with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. With this bill, we will be able to ensure accessible, equitable and high quality care for all.”

The legislation will establish a comprehensive, accountable behavioral health safety net system available in every region of Colorado. This includes over 15 different critical behavioral health services including substance use treatment, crisis services, criminal justice diversion, trauma informed care, youth services, and more.

The Governor also signed SB22-177, sponsored by Senators Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, as well as Representatives Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, and Mary Bradfield, R-Colorado Springs, which invests $12.2 million to improve Colorado’s statewide care coordination infrastructure to better serve Coloradans seeking behavioral health care.

“While there will always be more work to do to expand and improve our behavioral health care system, we need to make sure Coloradans can fully utilize already existing behavioral health services,” said Pettersen. “With this new infusion of funds, we can more quickly and efficiently connect Coloradans with the care they need. Behavioral health care navigators will be well equipped to help Coloradans navigate these complex systems to deliver quality, accessible services to those that need the most support.”

“Our law improves statewide care coordination so Coloradans can access behavioral health care faster–saving everyone time and money,” said Titone. “Navigating the system that delivers care should not be a barrier to accessing that care. This law helps patients receive care and streamlines the process for providers.”

The legislation requires the BHA to better train new and existing behavioral health care navigators on available behavioral health safety net system services and delivery, and on ways to better connect individuals seeking care with the support they need.

The bill also seeks to cut red tape associated with provider enrollment and credentialing for navigators and care coordination providers, so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time helping Coloradans in need.

SB22-177 was developed based on recommendations from the state’s Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force.

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