March 18, 2022

TWO BILLS TO BOOST ACCESS TO BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE PASS COMMITTEE

Legislation will improve access to care by investing $100 million to expand inpatient and residential treatment, and better integrate physical and behavioral health care

DENVER, CO – The House Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee passed two bills today that will boost access to behavioral health care by expanding the state’s inpatient and residential treatment capacity and better integrating physical and behavioral health care. Both bills are based on recommendations from the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force and seize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address Colorado’s most pressing needs.

“We’re making a $65 million investment to expand inpatient and residential treatment care and services in Colorado,” said Rep. Judy Amabile, D-Boulder. “Right now, we don’t have enough treatment beds to meet the needs of Coloradans with substance use disorders and serious mental illness. This transformational investment will fund 16 beds in Fort Logan and 125 residential care beds across the state so more Coloradans can get access to the treatment they need and deserve. Expanding treatment and residential care capacity is just one of the many ways we’re working to ensure Coloradans have access to the lifesaving care they need, when they need it.”


“Improving the integration between physical and behavioral health care will help build healthier communities and improve outcomes,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “Thanks to the $35 million investment in this bill, Coloradans can access critical behavioral health care and primary care from the same place, saving them time, money and hassle. Behavioral and physical health are equally important in overall health and this bill makes it easier for Coloradans to access critical care such as mental health counseling and substance use disorder screening and treatment.”


Adult Inpatient and Residential Care: HB22-1303, sponsored by Representatives Judy Amabile and Shane Sandridge, invests $65 million to expand inpatient and residential treatment options. Currently, Colorado does not have enough residential treatment beds to treat individuals with serious mental illness or substance use disorders, including individuals with co-occuring conditions or in need of civil commitment.


The bill 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. HB22-1303 passed committee by a vote of 9 to 1.


Integrating Primary Care and Behavioral Health Care: HB22-1302, sponsored by Representatives Chris Kennedy and Perry Will, invests $35 million to improve behavioral health outcomes by better integrating physical and behavioral health care. The bill 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. The funding could be used to better streamline and co-locate behavioral and physical health care services in outpatient, pediatric and primary care settings. HB22-1302 passed committee by a vote of 10 to 1.