As we enter the last week of the legislative session, we would like to give an update on the bills that address the challenges our children face when it comes to their mental health. If the Colorado General Assembly passes these bills, the results will create a dramatic advancement in childhood and youth mental health access and services, including significant cost savings and an enhanced capacity based on better data and improved governance to push even more solutions in the future.
Child and Youth Behavioral Health System Enhancements (SB19-195)
Senate Bill 195 is a bipartisan bill that would move forward a set of programs to better identify child and youth behavioral health needs early in life, implement comprehensive “wraparound” care coordination services to get kids the right care at the right time and start building out ways to blend funding across agencies to more comprehensively support behavioral health needs.
The bill was debated and amended in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee, then passed unanimously out of both committees. The full Senate then passed the bill on a 35-0 unanimous vote. Senate Bill 195 was introduced in the House on April 24 and assigned to the Health & Insurance Committee, where its first hearing will be held on April 29 at 1:30 pm. Upon committee passage, it will be heard in House Appropriations Committee then be up for a vote among the full House.
Professional Mental Health Services for Schools (SB19-010)
Senate Bill 10 will strengthen the School Health Professionals Grant program by clarifying the definition of mental health, allowing schools increased flexibility in funding allocation, giving professionals the ability to provide therapy to students and changing the criteria by which schools are prioritized for grants.
The Professional Mental Health Services for Schools bill was debated, amended and then passed in the Senate Health & Human Services and Appropriations Committees. The Senate as a whole passed the bill on a 22-8 vote. The bill was introduced in the House and assigned to the Education and Appropriations Committees, where it passed both committees. The full House had its third reading of the bill on April 29 where it passed on a 46-19 vote. With passage in both chambers, the bill is now headed to the governor to be signed.
Behavioral Health Care Coverage Modernization Act (HB19-1269)
House Bill 1269 would modernize statutory language pertaining to mental health, increase access to screenings and preventative care, increase transparency and consumer protection and close loopholes in mental health care coverage.
The bill was assigned to the House Public Health Care & Human Services and Appropriations committees, where it was amended and referred to the House as a whole. The House passed the bill on a 48-15 vote. Upon introduction in the Senate, both the Senate Health & Human Services and Appropriations committees then passed House Bill 1269 and referred it to the full Senate, where it was passed on a 30-5 vote. The bill is back in the House to vote on Senate amendments and was heard on April 29 where the House approved the Senate amendments, sending the bill to the governor’s desk for signature.