Colorado health committee advances bill to create BHA


Boram Kim


House Bill 1278 made its way to the House Appropriations Committee this week after the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee approved the bill 10-1 last Friday.

The bill would create the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) in the Department of Human Services to establish a system to regulate and administer behavioral health services in the state.


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Under the proposal, the administration would be tasked with establishing the following by 2024:

  •         A statewide behavioral health grievance system;
  •         A behavioral health performance monitoring system;
  •         A comprehensive behavioral health safety net system;
  •         Regionally-based behavioral health administrative service organizations;
  •         The BHA as the licensing authority for all behavioral health entities; and
  •         A BHA advisory council to provide feedback to the BHA on the behavioral health system in the state

The Behavioral Health Task Force, led by the Director of Colorado Department of Human Services Michelle Barnes, has outlined six “pillars” of reform to the current system and budget recommendations to addressing each:

  1.       Access (up to $108.6 million)
  2.       Affordability (up to $141.5 million)
  3.       Workforce & support ($82.7 million)
  4.       Accountability ($10 million)
  5.       Local & consumer guidance ($37.6 million)
  6.       Whole person care ($120.7 million)

Under phase one of the proposal, the administration would seek additional funding from private and federal sources and expand tele-behavioral health services. Phase two would implement care coordination with attention to quality and accessibility around the six pillars. The third and last phase would assess and implement a blueprint for ongoing management.

Dr. Morgan Medlock was appointed Commissioner of the BHA by Governor Jared Polis earlier this year. In a virtual summit of CDHS leadership last Thursday, Medlock affirmed her commitment to working across state agencies to improve social determinants of health as a strategy for improving behavioral health outcomes.

“Our vision is really to create a brand that is focused on people. And so we are moving to a vision of putting people first by developing a unified strategy for the state that includes a cohesive vision even across state agencies,” said Medlock. “And that is exactly our goal, is to create a more equitable, effective, and accountable behavioral health care system for all Coloradans.”