Welcome to a new recurring blog and newsletter theme that will run throughout the legislative session in Colorado. In these posts, we’ll talk about what legislation is currently being considered in the Colorado General Assembly, the status of that legislation, and whether we support or oppose the legislation. The primary focus of these reports is mental health and substance use treatment, healthcare policy and financing, and mental health professions issues.

HB18-1003: Opioid Misuse Prevention

  • Establishes Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee composed of 5 senators and 5 representatives to study various issues related to SUD in Colorado
  • Permits school-based healthcare centers to apply for grants to expand MH/SUD services
  • Directs HCPF to award grants to organizations that operate SUD screening, brief intervention, and referrals
  • Directs the Center for Research into Substance Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery to create continuing education activities that help prescribers safely manage people with chronic pain

Sponsors: Brittany Pettersen, Cheri Jahn, Kevin Priola

Status: Introduced, assigned to Public Health Care & Human Services

We support this measure

HB18-1007: Substance Use Disorder and Coverage

  • Requires all individual and group health benefit plans to cover a 5-day supply of buprenorphine without prior authorization once per year
  • Requires that health plans covering physical therapy, acupuncture, and/or chiropractic services have copays, deductibles, etc. that are equal to or less than primary care service fees for people with chronic pain and substance use disorder
  • Permits pharmacists working in collaboration with physicians to administer injectable medication-assisted treatment for SUD
  • Prohibits health plans from requiring patients to try opioid-containing medications for pain management before covering non-opioid prescriptions
  • Requires the Colorado medical assistance program to reimburse intranasal naloxone without prior authorization

Sponsors: Chris Kennedy, Jonathan Singer, Cheri Jahn, Ken Lambert

Status: Introduced, assigned to Public Health Care & Human Services

We support this measure

HB18-1017: Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact

Authorizes participation in the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact in which psychologists licensed in compact states are permitted to provide telepsychology services and temporary in-person client services (no more than 30 days/year) in other compact states. This would only go into effect when 7 total states enact legislation. We would be the 4th.

Sponsors: Dafna Michaelson Jenet, Stephen Fenberg, Bob Gardner

Status: Introduced, assigned to Health, Insurance, & Environment

We support this measure

HB18-1065: Department of Human Services Employee Discipline Harm to Vulnerable Persons

Changes current law that states that DHS employees can be suspended or dismissed after criminal conviction of abuse, neglect, exploitation, or mistreatment of a vulnerable person. New law would:

  • Require the safety of the vulnerable person (not the interests of any other person) to be the primary consideration in disciplining an employee engaged in mistreatment
  • Regardless of whether or not there is a criminal conviction, employees found to be engaged in mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable person will be presumed to have engaged in serious and flagrant willful misconduct or willful failure to perform his or her duties, making disciplinary action easier.
  • Presumption of misconduct/failure to perform duties can only be rebutted in a state personnel board hearing if the employee presents clear and convincing evidence that he or she did not engage in mistreatment, abuse, exploitation, or neglect

Sponsors: Janet Buckner, Susan Beckman, Kent D. Lambert

Status: Introduced, assigned to Judiciary

We support this measure

HB18-1067: Right to Rest Act

Establishes basic rights for people experiencing homelessness, including:

  • Right to use and move freely in public spaces
  • Right to rest in public spaces
  • Right to eat and accept food in public spaces where food is not generally allowed
  • Right to occupy a legally parked vehicle
  • Right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of one’s property

Sponsors: Joseph Salazar, Jovan Melton

Status: Introduced, assigned to Local Government

We support this measure

HB18-1094: Children and Youth Mental Health Treatment Act

Extends indefinitely the Child Mental Health Treatment Act and renames it the Children and Youth Mental Health Treatment Act with some clarifications, definitions, reporting requirements, and assessment tools. It continues to protect parents/guardians seeking mental health services for their child from unwarranted child welfare involvement.

Sponsors: Leslie Herod, Cole Wist, Dominick Moreno, Beth Martinez Humenik

Status: Introduced, assigned to Public Health Care & Human Services

We support this measure

HB18-1136: Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Adds inpatient and residential substance use disorder services to the Colorado medical assistance program using money allocated from the marijuana tax cash fund.

Sponsors: Brittany Pettersen, Cheri Jahn, Kevin Priola

Status: Introduced, assigned to Public Health Care & Human Services

We support this measure

SB18-020: Registered Psychotherapists Auricular Acudetox

Expands permissions to perform auricular acudetox to include registered psychotherapists who have undergone the training. Currently it is restricted to licensed mental health professionals and level III Certified Addiction Counselors.

Sponsors: Leroy Garcia, Daneya Esgar

Status: Passed Senate, introduced to House and assigned to Health, Insurance, & Environment

We support this measure

SB18-022: Clinical Practice for Opioid Prescribing

  • Restricts the number of opioid pills prescribed to 7-day initial supply with one 7-day refill unless the patient has chronic pain, progressively worsening or reoccurring health condition requiring pain relief, or cancer, is experiencing post-surgical pain that is expected to last more than 14 days, is prescribed a drug with an added abuse deterrent, is in hospice or palliative care, or the opioid-containing drug is a component of medication-assisted treatment for SUD
  • Clarifies that prescribers may submit electronic prescriptions
  • Requires prescribers to check the prescription drug monitoring program before the first refill prescription

Sponsors: Irene Aguilar, Jack Tate, Brittany Petterson, Chris Kennedy

Status: Introduced, assigned to Health & Human Services

We support this measure

SB18-024: Expand Access Behavioral Health Care Providers

  • Permits licensed mental health/SUD providers to participate in the Colorado Health Services Corps loan repayment program on the condition of committing to provide these services in health professional shortage areas for a specified period of time
  • Directs the CHSC advisor council to prioritize loan repayment and scholarships for mental health/SUD providers in nonprofit, public employer, or underserved population focused private settings
  • Establishes scholarship program for Certified Addiction Counselor programs
  • Appropriates $2.5 million annually from marijuana tax cash fund for these purposes

Sponsors: Jack Tate, Cheri Jahn, Jonathan Singer

Status: Health & Human Services referred amended to Appropriations

We support this measure

SB18-040: Substance Use Disorder Harm Reduction

  • Permits hospitals to conduct needle exchange
  • Provides civil immunity for participants in needle exchange programs
  • Creates a safe injection site in Denver and provides civil and criminal immunity for the facility
  • Allows school districts and nonpublic schools to obtain naloxone and train employees to administer naloxone

Sponsors: Cheri Jahn, Kent Lambert, Jonathan Singer

Status: Introduced, assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs

We support this measure

SB18-080: Wholesale Canadian Drug Importation Program

Directs HCPF to design a program to import prescription drugs from Canada for sale to Colorado consumers for the purpose of creating cost savings for consumers.

Sponsors: Irene Aguilar, Susan Lontine

Status: Testimony heard by State, Veterans, & Military Affairs

We support this measure

SB18-114: Preventing Suicide by Strengthening Life Skills in Students

  • Encourages school districts to adopt a suicide prevention policy that includes:
    • Designation of a student suicide prevention coordinator
    • Comprehensive suicide prevention training for school health professionals
    • Suicide prevention training for teachers, coaches, and resource officers
    • Basic suicide prevention training for all other staff
    • Life skills, social-emotional learning, and resiliency training for students
    • Training for students to effectively educate their peers about suicide
    • Parent education about suicide prevention
  • Establishing a grant program to fund schools implementing a suicide prevention policy that adheres to the above recommendations

Sponsors: Nancy Todd, James Wilson, Barbara McLachlan

Status: Introduced, assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs

We support this measure

SB18-132: State Waiver Catastrophic Health Plans

Permits Colorado to apply for a waiver to federal law restricting sales of catastrophic health plans. If passed and waiver is approved, individuals under the age of 30 would be able to purchase catastrophic health plans rather than a gold, silver, or bronze health plan on the exchange.

Sponsors: Jim Smallwood, Chris Kennedy

Status: Introduced, assigned to Health & Human Services

We oppose this measure

SB18-153: Behavioral Health Care Related to Suicide Ideation

  • Instructs HCPF to identify data gaps, evaluate evidence-based practices for suicide prevention, implement new Medicare codes for collaborative care for suicidal ideation, and collect data
  • Instructs HCPF to develop a universal outpatient mental health authorization form to be given to discharged MH/SUD patients that allows individuals to consent to sharing of medical information with outpatient mental health professionals to improve care coordination
  • Health facilities must have a plan for care coordination when discharging people being treated for suicidal ideation

Sponsor: John Kefalas

Status: Introduced, assigned to State, Veterans, & Military Affairs

We support this measure

Kate Fitch

I've been with the Network since 2015, when I started as a volunteer. I've been on staff as the Communications Specialist since January 2017. I'm currently in college and pursuing a dual BA in Public Health and Public Administration. I'm most passionate about making sure that people with mental health conditions are fairly represented in the media, at policy tables, and in treatment system planning. In my spare time, I like to crochet, knit, and be the best cat mom ever.

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