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April 2021 Legislative Update

The Colorado General Assembly is past the midway point of its 2021 session, and lawmakers continue to work on a number of bills related to addressing the opioid crisis and proposed funding for services and programs for prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery support.

One major bill the Consortium has been tracking is SB21-137, referred to as the Behavioral Health Recovery Act of 2021. Among this bill’s provisions are continuing the medication-assisted treatment program and providing funding for behavioral health programs and services in frontier and rural communities. It also would continue funding for efforts of the Colorado Consortium in response to the opioid crisis. The bill contains many other provisions, which you can read about in this overview.  

SB21-137 was passed by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and now awaits approval from the Senate Appropriations Committee before consideration by the full Senate. Then it must pass the house.

Another important bill related to the prevention of substance use disorders (HB21-1276) was introduced on April 15 and has been assigned to the House Health and Insurance Committee.  

Other bills

The Consortium is following five other bills pertaining to medication-assisted treatment, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, the Naloxone Bulk Purchase Fund and more. See the blog post for additional details.

In addition to the Behavioral Health Recovery Act of 2021 (SB21-137), and the just introduced prevention bill (HB21-1276), the Consortium is following five other bills related to the opioid crisis and behavioral health.

SB21-011: Concerning the responsibilities of pharmacists related to opiate antagonists.

The bill requires a pharmacist who dispenses an opioid to an individual to inform the individual of the potential dangers of a high dose of opioid and offer to prescribe the individual an opiate antagonist if:

  • In the pharmacist’s professional judgment, the individual would benefit from the information;
  • The individual has a history of prior opioid overdose or substance use disorder;
  • The individual is, at the same time, prescribed a benzodiazepine, a sedative hypnotic drug, carisoprodol, tramadol, or gabapentin; or
  • The opioid prescription being dispensed is at or in excess of 90 morphine milligram equivalent.

This bill is awaiting a hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee after passing the Health and Human Services Committee.

SB21-098: Continuation of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)

The bill implements the recommendations of the Department of Regulatory Affairs for continuation of the PDMP through September 1, 2028, including authorizing the State Board of Pharmacy to promulgate rules that identify the list of prescription drugs that are not currently listed as controlled substances and requiring such drugs to be tracked through the PDMP.

The bill also allows coroners to authorize deputy coroners to access the PDMP.

The bill passed committee and is waiting for a hearing from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB21-122: Concerning the Bulk Purchase of Opiate Antagonists

The intent of the bill is to align statute related to standing orders for opiate antagonists with eligibility for use of the Opiate Antagonist Bulk Purchase Fund.

Section 1 of the bill adds a unit of local government to prescribing or dispensing opiate antagonists. Section 2 and 3 adds a unit of local government to the immunity statutes for administration of an opiate antagonist. Section 4 clarifies that eligible entities for use of the Bulk Purchase Fund are harm reduction organizations, law enforcement agencies, and first responders.

The bill is clean up language proposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment based on the experience with administering the Bulk Purchase Fund.

SB21-122 has passed the Senate and the House and was sent to the governor for his signature.

HB21-1012 Expand Prescription Drug Monitoring Program  

Current law requires the prescription drug monitoring program (program) to track all controlled substances prescribed in Colorado. The bill expands the program, effective February 1, 2023, to track all prescription drugs prescribed in this state. The bill also extends the repeal of the program until September 1, 2028.

HB21-1021 Concerning Supporting the Peer Support Professional Workforce

The bill:

  • Requires the department of human services (state department) to establish procedures to approve recovery support services organizations for reimbursement of peer support professional services. 
  • Gives the executive director of the state department rule-making authority to establish other criteria and standards as necessary.
  • Permits a recovery support services organization to charge and submit for reimbursement from the medical assistance program certain eligible peer support services provided by peer support professionals.
  • Authorizes the department of health care policy and financing to reimburse recovery support services organizations for permissible claims for peer support services submitted under the medical services program.
  • Requires contracts entered into between the state department’s office of behavioral health and designated managed service organizations to include terms and conditions related to the support of peer-run recovery support services organizations.

The bill has passed its first two House committees and now awaits consideration by the House Appropriations Committee.