Legislative Update: A Summary of Mental Health Legislation in Colorado
It was a busy year for the Colorado legislators, and several laws were introduced in the 2015 legislative session that may have an impact on mental health and its practice in the state. Below is a brief summary of the legislation that mental health providers may want to become familiar with as these bills go into effect.
House Bill 15-1029, Health Care Delivery via Telemedicine Statewide, was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on March 20. This new law is related to health insurance coverage for telemedicine, and it prohibits insurers from requiring in-person care when the provider determines that telemedicine is appropriate. It also requires insurers to base reimbursement of telemedicine services on the same standards as traditional care. This law will make it easier for providers to be reimbursed for services provided via telemedicine, and may help people in rural areas access care that they otherwise may not be able to obtain.
Governor Hickenlooper also signed House Bill 15-1032, Licensed Mental Health Professionals Treat Minors, into law on March 20. This law expands the list of health care providers who may provide services to minors who are at least 15 years old with the minor’s consent. Prior law only allowed people licensed to practice medicine or psychology to provide such treatment; the new law adds social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, and addiction counselors to that list.
House Bill 15-1033, Strategic Planning Group on Aging, was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on June 4, 2015. This bill establishes a strategic planning action group consisting of 23 members from various consumer and business sectors, likely including mental health, which will convene to develop a comprehensive strategic action plan on aging in Colorado.
House Bill 15-1067, Continuing Professional Development – Psychologists, was signed into law on April 8. This bill requires the psychology licensing board to promulgate rules establishing a continuing professional development program including, at a minimum: the development of a learning plan; at least 40 hours of continuing professional development hours every 2 years; and documentation of these continuing professional development hours. I plan to write a more detailed article on these requirements in an upcoming article as rules implementing this bill are promulgated.
House Bill 15-1186, Services for Children with Autism, was also passed, signed by the Governor on May 29. This bill increases the age limit for children receiving services under the autism waiver program from 6 to 8 years old and removes the current $25,000 cap on services provided to each child. It also requires an annual evaluation of the effectiveness of services provided to children under this program.
The Senate was busy introducing legislation as well. Senate Bill 15-015, Mental Health Parity for Autism Spectrum Disorders, was signed on April 16. This bill includes autism spectrum disorders in Colorado’s mental health parity law and repeals an earlier provision that says autism is not a mental illness for the purposes of health care coverage. It also removes caps on number of services or visits for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. The law will take effect on January 1, 2017, unless voted into law earlier in the November 2016 general election.
Senate Bill 15-109, Mandatory Abuse Report for Adult with a Disability, was signed into law on June 5. The law creates a task force that will prepare recommendations for implementing mandatory reporting of mistreatment, abuse, neglect or exploitation of at risk adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The task force must submit its report by December 1, 2015, and the mandatory reporting requirements are to go into effect on July 1, 2016.
And finally, Senate Bill 15-214, Interim Committee on School Safety and Youth in Crisis, was signed by the Governor on June 3. This bill creates a task force to study issues related to school safety, identification and monitoring of students in crisis, and development of criteria for assessing potential threats. The task force will include at least one licensed school counselor and one member with experience in child or adolescent mental health issues as non-voting members.
Several other bills were introduced but not passed in this legislative session. These include: HB-1018, Protecting Seniors from Elder Abuse; HB 15-1082, Time Limit on Mental Health Disciplinary Actions; HB 15-1135, Terminally Ill Individuals End-of-Life Decisions; HB 15-1151, Floor for Medicare Provider Rates; HB 15-1175, Prohibit Conversion Therapy; HB 15-1351, Limitation on Mental Health Disciplinary Actions; SB 15-031, Reciprocity to Practice Occupation or Profession; SB 15-042, Mandatory Reports of Animal Abuse; SB 15-077, Parent’s Bill of Rights; and SB 15-129, Preserving Parent-Child Relationships. For more information on these bills, visit: Colorado General Assembly.
For questions regarding this article please contact Jon Goodman.