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May 18, 2022


Legislation significantly boosts number of inpatient beds for adults and youth, increases access to care for families and saves Coloradans money on prescription drugs

DENVER, CO – Two critical bills from the legislature’s behavioral health package were signed into law today. They invest nearly $120 million to increase residential treatment options in Colorado and expand access to behavioral health care for youth and families. Governor Polis also signed legislation that will reduce the cost of prescription drugs and save Coloradans money on health care.

Adult Inpatient and Residential Behavioral Health Care: HB22-1303, sponsored by Representatives Judy Amabile and Shane Sandridge and Senators Faith Winter and Jim Smallwood, invests $65 million to expand inpatient and residential treatment options.

“Colorado needs more residential treatment options to ensure that people have access to the care they need, and that’s what the bill signed into law today will do,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Too many people are waiting for treatment and seeing their conditions worsen because there isn’t a treatment bed available for them. The legislation signed today will fund new beds across the state for people struggling with serious mental illness.”

“Far too many of our neighbors are struggling to access the health care they need, and we must increase our capacity to support folks who require urgent, immediate care,” said Senator Faith Winter, D-Westminster. “These new laws will provide additional inpatient and residential treatment beds for individuals in need, and help people save money and improve certainty for folks who rely on lifesaving prescription drugs, which will make a world of difference and allow more Coloradans to access the care they desperately need.”

Currently, Colorado does not have enough residential treatment beds to treat individuals with serious mental illness, including individuals with co-occuring conditions or in need of civil commitment. The law supports the addition of 16 beds at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan and 125 residential treatment beds across the state. These beds will be available for adults with urgent behavioral health needs who need clinical support to become stabilized. They will provide integrated care to flexibly serve all populations, including individuals involved in the criminal justice system and those awaiting competency restoration services.

“The legislation Governor Polis signed today will save Coloradans money on prescription drugs by requiring insurance companies and prescription drug benefit managers to pass on savings from manufacturer rebates to consumers,” said Rep. Iman Jodeh, D-Aurora. “No one should have to choose between life saving medication and paying for everyday necessities. This new law will protect consumers and help ensure that cost isn’t a barrier to the treatment patients need.”

Saving Coloradans Money on Prescription Drugs: HB22-1370, sponsored by Representatives Emily Sirota and Iman Jodeh and Senators Faith Winter and Janet Buckner, makes prescription drugs and health care more affordable and dependable. The bill ensures doctors are in charge of a patient’s treatment instead of insurance companies by limiting when a patient has to try and fail a treatment that their insurance company prefers before they can get what their doctor recommends. The bill ensures that patients know what they’ll be expected to pay for prescription drugs by requiring that 25 percent of health plans have a set dollar amount for co-pays instead of unpredictable percentage-based coinsurance.

“This legislation prevents people from seeing their health coverage change when they are in the middle of lifesaving treatment and will help ensure patients have access to the medications they need,” said Rep. Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “We’ve taken historic action in recent years to bring down the cost of health insurance and save people money on health care, and I’m proud to see us take this important step forward today to save people even more on their prescription drugs.”

The bill will save Coloradans money on prescription drugs by requiring insurance companies to pass along the savings from manufacturers’ rebates. The bill also bans health insurance companies from raising the out-of-pocket costs of someone’s prescription medications in the middle of their coverage and prohibits companies from dropping coverage of a medication a patient needs midway through the patients’ coverage.

“Kids and families all across Colorado deserve access to quality behavioral health care, but our current system isn’t getting them the care they need,” said Senator Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. “I am proud to champion these bills that will improve access to behavioral health care for youth in Colorado, lower the cost and improve access to lifesaving prescription drugs, and help make sure that every family in our state is able to receive the vital care they need to thrive.”

Youth and Family Residential Behavioral Health Care: HB22-1283 sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Mary Bradfield and Senators Janet Buckner and Kevin Priola, will make it easier for families and youth to access residential and outpatient care in Colorado.

“Colorado is facing a youth mental health crisis; we made expanding access to care for youth and families one of the major focuses of our behavioral health package this year,” said Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “Too many families can’t find options for treatment in Colorado so they are forced to send their kids out of state. I’m proud Colorado is making a historic investment to substantially increase our ability to care for our kids and provide the care they need to thrive.”

Right now, Colorado does not have adequate capacity to serve children and youth with complex behavioral health needs. As a result, too many children are sent out-of-state to access treatment, far away from their families and support network. This bill will invest $54M to support intensive youth and family residential and outpatient care, ensuring that children, youth, and families can access behavioral health treatment and services they need right here in Colorado.

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