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Friday afternoon, a bipartisan bill to increase access to behavioral health services for Colorado youth cleared the  Senate Health and Human Services committee at the Capitol.

If the bill becomes law, it would expand access to certain behavioral health services for Medicaid members under the age of 21. Sponsored by Senator Chris Kolker, D-Centennial, the bill would require coverage for critical mental health services for Colorado youth.

Cosponsored by Senator Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, SB23-174 would require coverage for therapy, prevention, and education services, case management, and evaluation and treatment planning services for Medicaid members who are under the age of 21.

“In recent years, we have unfortunately seen Colorado’s youth mental health crisis get worse and worse,” said Kolker. “This year, the legislature is taking a number of steps to ensure our youth are supported and have access to the life-saving mental health services they need, no matter their zip code or family’s income.”

Senate Bill 174 ensures young recipients of Medicaid have the same access to critical care that their peers do, including therapy, treatment planning, and more.”

In 2021, Children’s Hospital Colorado declared a youth mental health emergency in the state. The following year it went on record stating that youth mental health conditions had worsened.

Furthermore, in 2022, as reported yesterday by Ark Valley Voice,  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey showing that 44 percent of high school students reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless during the past year.

SB23-174 now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration. Readers can follow the bill’s progress here.

Featured image: Courtesy of Thrive Global.