The act requires the behavioral health administration (BHA) in the department of human services (department) to create and implement a behavioral health-care provider workforce plan on or before September 1, 2022.
The plan must:
- Include recruitment methods to increase and diversify the behavioral health-care provider workforce;
- Require the BHA to partner with the department of higher education to better prepare the future behavioral health-care provider workforce for public sector service, to develop paid job shadowing and internship opportunities, and to develop partnerships with learning facilities and training centers;
- Include strategies for the BHA to work with community colleges and other institutions of higher education to recruit residents of health professional shortage areas, with the goal of educating these individuals in behavioral health-care fields so that they will return to practice in areas of need;
- In collaboration with institutions of higher education, the community college system, the department of higher education, and the work force development council, create a new program to help behavioral health-care providers advance in their respective fields;
- Require the BHA to expand the peer support professional workforce;
- Include proposals to work with law enforcement organizations to cross-train first responders in behavioral health, increase cultural competencies, and reduce the stigma of receiving mental health services; and
- Through an interagency agreement with other state agencies, raise awareness among health-care providers concerning opportunities to invest in and strengthen their behavioral health-care staff.
The act requires the division of professions and occupations in the department of regulatory agencies (DORA) to make recommendations to expand the portability of existing credentialing requirements and behavioral health-care practice through telehealth.
The act requires the BHA to:
- In collaboration with DORA, establish workforce standards that strengthen the behavioral health-care provider workforce and increase opportunities for unlicensed behavioral health-care providers;
- Work with other state agencies to reduce the administrative burden across agencies to ensure behavioral health-care providers have additional time to focus on patient care;
- Collaborate with other state agencies on behavioral health-care issues;
- Use the learning management system to develop and implement a comprehensive, collaborative, and cross-system training certification and training curriculum of evidence-based treatment and evidence-based criminal justice approaches for behavioral health-care providers working in programs to obtain a criminal justice treatment provider endorsement; and
- Develop methods to strengthen Colorado's current behavioral health-care provider workforce.
In 2023 and 2024, the department is required to provide an overview of the BHA's progress toward addressing the behavioral health-care provider workforce shortage during the hearings held prior to the regular session of the general assembly under the "SMART Act".
On or before January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, the community college system is required to submit a report to the BHA that includes a summary of the behavioral health career pathway and it implementation.
Pursuant to the relief authorized by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, for the 2022-23 state fiscal year, the act, appropriates the following amounts from the behavioral and mental health cash fund for the purposes of the act:
- $36,806,984 to the department for use by the BHA;
- $20,000,000 to the department of public health and environment for use by the primary care office to provide loan repayment and scholarships for behavioral health-care providers and candidates for licensure who are participating in the Colorado health service corps; and
- $15,193,018 to the department of higher education.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)