Today, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bethany Pray provided testimony for Senate Bill 24-093, Continuity of Health-Care Coverage Change. CCLP is in support of SB24-093.
CCLP Policy Fellow, Milena Castañeda testified at the Medical Services Board meeting regarding emergency rules for the NEMT.
Chaer Robert provided testimony against House Bill 24-1065, Reduction of State Income Taxes. CCLP is in opposition of HB24-1065.
Behavioral health bill would provide services to Colorado youth
On Friday, March 23, 2023, Milena Castaneda, one of CCLP’s Policy Fellows, provided testimony to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee for Senate Bill 23-174, Access to Certain Behavioral Health Services. CCLP is in support of SB23-174.
Madam Chair and members of the Senate, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
My name is Milena Castaneda, and I am a Policy Fellow at the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Accessing behavioral health services has been a nearly impossible task for our youth for many years, but this is especially true for those who need such services but do not have a behavioral diagnosis. Having a sick relative, being on state benefits, in the state’s foster care system, or even having an unstable family dynamic and home life are detrimental to a youth’s developmental state and emotional capacity.
Obtaining a behavioral health diagnosis is often easier said than done. As a previous outpatient and inpatient behavioral health social worker I have seen in person how having and not having essential services affect our youth, both before and during the pandemic. When I was an inpatient bed specialist for a behavioral health hospital, I saw so many kids go through our crisis center for these similar reasons. Often times our evaluating clinicians would provide a vague behavioral health diagnosis, such as a mood disorder, to justify their need for treatment, because they would not have received the services otherwise. Regularly would I see young people and their families take time off of work and/or school, come to our crisis center and ask for a behavioral health evaluation to obtain a diagnosis just so they can go to a case manager to assist them with life changing needs. These visits could have been avoided if such prevention-focused services were already in place.
As a case manager I have helped kids and their families obtain state benefits to ensure they have food, housing, and some bills paid for to alleviate the stress the families were facing. I have seen how a child goes from constant survival mode to a relaxed state of mind, with less thoughts of suicide knowing that their and their family’s needs are being met.
Having preventative behavioral health services will ultimately provide this safety net that has been missing within our state’s behavioral health system. While we continue to create a new behavioral health system this type of access will be a stating factor. This will show to our youths and other states that we see and hear our youths are hurting and we are going to be doing something about it. This bill is how we provide such action. We can decrease the need for crisis services for our young people if we have these preventative measures in place.
Though this testimony is reflective of my personal experience, CCLP is also in support of this bill, and we ask you to strongly consider this bill as a necessary life saving measure for our youth people.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Colorado Center on Law and Policy
SB23-174 was signed into law on May 20, 2023.