Skip to Main Content

Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force Begins Meetings

The Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force, created by SB21-137, met for the first time on Aug. 17. The group is tasked with issuing a report with recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor about policies to create transformational change in the area of behavioral health using money the state receives from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Legislature has set aside $450M for one-time investments in behavioral health. The Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force is meeting in place of the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorder Interim Committee that the Consortium has been working with in previous years.

The Task Force will be discussing transformational improvements to the behavioral health system in Colorado, which is inclusive of mental health and substance use, for people across the lifespan, including people with other co-occurring conditions. In particular, the Task Force wants to understand how funds can address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Force is required to obligate funds by Dec. 31, 2024. All funds must be spent by Dec. 31, 2026.

The Task Force will finalize recommendations by no later than Jan. 11, 2022, and a report will be submitted to the Governor no later than Jan. 21, 2022.

Materials for the Behavioral Health Transformational Task Force will be posted on the Interim Committee website. You can find the meeting materials, presentations, agendas, the schedule and audio to listen to the meetings on the page.

At the Aug. 17 meeting, department heads and legislators discussed their motivation for this work and discussed the process for the Task Force. Dr. Robert Werthwein, director of the Office of Behavioral Health, and Kim Bimestefer, executive director of Health Care Policy and Financing, provided a presentation on Colorado’s behavioral health needs, progress to date, and remaining gaps.

The Task Force discussed the following potential areas of focus referred to as pillars:

  • Health Promotion and Recovery
  • Entry and Access Systems
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Workforce
  • Affordability

Here is a link to the facilitator’s presentation describing examples of each pillar.

A survey will be forthcoming to allow stakeholders and the general public to provide input on recommendations for use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to behavioral health needs in Colorado.

The Task Force is comprised of 16 members, including 10 legislators and 6 state departmental heads. A subpanel of the Task Force is comprised of 25 subject matter experts appointed by Colorado General Assembly House and Senate Leaders.

José Esquibel is serving as the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention representative on the subpanel.

The subpanel will have its first meeting near the end of August.

We will share more information through the newsletter about this Interim Task Force.