Health bills on the Colorado docket this session

New bills filed at the outset of the 2020 Colorado legislative session deal with a variety of issues ranging from regulating nicotine production to establishing consumer protections for cost-sharing health care policies to treating substance abuse in the criminal justice system. 

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Here’s a sample of bills relating to health policy in 2020:

House Bill 20-1006 would require the Department of Human Services to create an early childhood mental health program, under which qualified early childhood mental health consultants would be sent out to support children, families and other professionals who work directly with children in schools, day cares, doctors offices and social service agencies, for example. The purpose of the program would also be to guide and train families, caregivers and medical providers in adequately meeting the social-emotional needs of children under eight years old. This program would also include expectant families during the prenatal months. 

Early childhood mental health experts would also be required to adhere to professional standards set by the program, which would establish a statewide certification process for mental health professionals. The bill also requires the program to publish a list of certified mental health consultants who agree to have their names published on the list. 

The Department of Human Services would open a competitive process every three years to place publicly-funded early childhood mental health consultants in the communities they would serve. 

The program would provide training to families and professionals who work with children to address the needs of children and families in trauma, adverse childhood experiences, resilience, child development through age eight, effects of caregiver substance abuse, sensory processing problems, meeting the needs of special needs children, meeting the needs of adopted and fostered children and provide occupational and speech, physical and mental health therapy as needed, among other services. 

The bill, as introduced, would require a rollout of the program by July 1, 2022, as well as publish a list of qualified mental health professionals who agree to voluntarily add their names to the list.  The bill, if passed, would also require the Department of Human Services to work with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to find ways to fund the program. Funding solutions would have to be presented by Jan. 1, 2022. 

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-61st District), Rep. Emily Sirota (D-9th District), Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D-22nd District) and Sen. Tammy Story (D-16th District). 

House Bill 20-1028 would require the Colorado School Safety Resource Center to convene a group of Department of Education representatives, school district officials, department of public health and environment officials, medical providers and residential treatment providers, government officials from other departments and anyone else designated as a stakeholder. 

This group would identify school districts’ needs in finding residential mental health treatment resources for mentally ill students or students with behavioral disorders. This group would also prepare a report on the number of children and youth who received residential mental health treatment services from the state from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020, what schools can do to provide services to severe mentally ill students and children with severe behavioral disorders. The report would also include how much it costs to provide the extra beds needed to address the needs of severely mentally ill students who aren’t getting treatment now, barriers to care for these children, a plan for providing additional beds for those children who need residential care. 

The report would be presented in January of 2021. 

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Susan Beckman (R-38th District), Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (R-30th District) and Sen. Julie Gonzalez (D-34th District). 

House Bill 20-1068 would require doctors to deliver the same level of care to a living baby born during or after an abortion and establishes a doctor-patient relationship when a living child is born under such circumstances. The bill, if passed, would also require that the child is immediately transferred to a hospital. 

The bill is similar to a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate in January 2019, which very closely matches parts of the text included in HB 20-1068 in Colorado. The federal legislation, S. 311, or the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, was filed by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). It did not pass after introduction, and while it isn’t clear from the bill just how many abortions result in live births, the limited data collected on the subject suggests live births after or during an abortion are rare. 

According to the text in HB 20-1068, any physician who does not provide the same care to the child born during or after an abortion would be fined $100,000, and the bill also stipulates the state attorney general can file a lawsuit to collect the fine from the physician in question. The bill would make not providing adequate care to a child born during or after an abortion a class 3 felony, and the person who reports the felony would remain confidential under the bill’s current language. Anyone who knew of a physician not providing adequate treatment to a child born under those circumstances and doesn’t report the felony would be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor if the bill is passed. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-14th District).