May 18, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: SIGNED! BILLS TO SUPPORT HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE, BETTER PREPARE COLORADO FOR FUTURE PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCIES

Legislation will save health care workers money, improve hospital readiness, increase emergency PPE stockpile


THORNTON, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed into law a slate of bills aimed at supporting health care workers and better preparing Colorado for the next public health emergency.


HB22-1298, sponsored by Representative Kyle Mullica, D-Thornton, and Senators Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder County, and Nick Hinrichsen, D-Pueblo, will save Colorado’s health care workers money through fee relief for nurses and psychiatric technicians.


“We are preparing now for the next public health emergency and making sure we have enough health care professionals to meet demand in Colorado,” said Mullica. “Staffing shortages coupled with pandemic pressures have left our health care workers—my colleagues—feeling overworked and burned out. The four bills signed into law today are designed to build a healthier Colorado by investing in our professional health care workforce and making sure we are not caught flat footed during the next pandemic. From fee relief to stockpiling PPE to investing more than $61 million to train and recruit the next generation of talented nurses, these laws prioritize high quality health care in Colorado.”


“Our health care heroes have faced immeasurable challenges over the last two years, but regardless of these challenges, they have stepped up to the plate every day to care for Coloradans,” said Hinrichsen. “That’s why I’m proud to see this bill, which will help alleviate the pressure our essential workers have faced through much deserved fee relief for professional licensing and certification, become law to save Coloradans money and provide the support these workers deserve to move forward.”


The new law provides licensure and certification fee relief for nurses, nurse aides and psychiatric technicians, and will save health care workers $11.7 million over two years on their professional licensing and certification.


Polis also signed into law SB22-226, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Mullica and Jaquez Lewis that will bolster Colorado’s health care workforce through a $61 million investment in education, training, recruitment and retention of nurses and health care workers.


“As we move forward together, we must invest in Colorado’s health care workforce and better prepare and equip our health care heroes,” Jaquez Lewis said. “This new law will not only result in better quality of care for Coloradans, it will give workers advanced skill sets that help them grow and move forward in their careers.”


SB22-226 addresses the shortage of health care workers by assisting with tuition and fees to help people get into high-demand health care fields. These programs require clinical hours at health facilities, currently a major limiting factor in how many students schools can accept. To address this, the bill would also provide funding for health care facilities to increase training slots to build long-term capacity to train new and existing employees.


Polis also signed a pair of bills to better prepare Colorado for future public health emergencies. HB22-1352, sponsored by Mullica and Jaquez Lewis, will require the state to maintain a stockpile of essential materials, including personal protective equipment (PPE).


“As we begin to live alongside this disease and balance returning to normal with keeping ourselves, our families, and our communities safe, we must apply the lessons we’ve learned the past few years,” Jaquez Lewis said. “These new requirements will boost our emergency stockpile of PPE so that our health care providers have the critical tools and resources they need, and ensure they are better prepared to respond and keep us safe the next time a public health emergency strikes.”


This law will invest nearly $2 million to stockpile medical-grade PPE in Colorado so hospitals, vaccine clinics and other medical sites can have access to the protective equipment they need to keep them safe. Schools, community centers and other organizations can also receive stockpiled PPE.


Finally, Polis also signed legislation sponsored by Mullica and Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, to improve hospitals’ and health facilities’ preparedness to meet increased demands for care. HB22-1401 requires every Colorado hospital to establish a nurse staffing plan to meet patient needs when demand surges to ensure that every patient receives the care they deserve.


“Every day, Colorado’s nurses go above and beyond to save lives and keep our hospitals running,” said Moreno. “As a result, far too many of our healthcare workers are overworked and burnt out from the demands of their jobs. By requiring hospitals to establish a plan to meet increased demand for patient care, we will combat those feelings of burnout within our nurses and ensure a high level of patient care that Coloradans deserve.”