Colorado Behavioral Health Administration releases its 2023 Strategic Plan


Boram Kim


The Colorado Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) released its 2023-2025 Strategic Plan on Tuesday, outlining a unified strategy that is data-driven and puts people first. 

The plan proposes utilizing a collective impact model to align activities across various state agencies and programs with the BHA’s core values, pillars, and priorities to reach a shared vision and outcomes. 

“This strategic vision is a story about the people of Colorado demanding change, being acknowledged by Governor Polis and state leaders, and catalyzing the formation of the BHA, the single entity accountable for transforming the way people access and receive mental health and substance use care in Colorado,” BHA Commissioner Dr. Morgan Medlock said. 

Informed by the work of the Behavioral Health Task Force, stakeholders, the BHA Advisory Council, the governor’s office, government partners, and BHA staff, the plan outlines 18 key cross-agency strategies.

The strategies revolve around the administration’s six pillars of behavioral health reform: access, affordability, workforce and support, accountability, lived experience and local guidance, and whole-person care. 

BHA has been working with the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) to develop the OwnPath Care Directory, which directs people to services and providers in their locale. BHA is planning to expand the number of providers and services incorporated into the web portal while developing and releasing an online tracker of the state’s behavioral health bed capacity. 

Another outlined strategy is for the BHA to work with criminal justice agencies to coordinate crisis response. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing will open the mobile crisis response benefit across Medicaid. This benefit, expected to launch in July 2023, would offer individuals in crisis a timely and community-based response aimed at reducing law enforcement involvement and emergency room utilization. 

In July, the BHA will begin authorizing Behavioral Health Entity (BHE) licenses aimed at streamlining and consolidating the regulatory structure around licensing. These efforts will be in coordination with the Department of Regulatory Affairs to form behavioral health administrative service organizations, which will train and employ regional representatives in assisting with the navigation of and connection to local health services. 

Envisioned in the plan is a state-networked approach to the behavioral healthcare continuum that is expected to be finalized in the coming months. Testifying before the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee last week, Medlock said eight of its 13 formal agreements with state agencies to build the cross-agency behavioral health support system have been reached.