What Colorado Leaders Are Saying about New Laws to Deliver Behavioral Health Care Access Across the State, Combat Fentanyl Crisis in Communities & Save Lives

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

DENVER -   This afternoon, Gov. Polis signed bipartisan legislation to help the Colorado workforce, to create transformational change in the behavioral health system and comprehensive and bipartisan legislation to reduce fentanyl deaths and get dealers off the streets and fentanyl out of Colorado communities.  Here is what community leaders are saying: 

HB22-1326 Fentanyl Accountability And Prevention - Representative A. Garnett, Senators B. Pettersen | J. Cooke

“We stand in support of this bill with hopes that lives will be saved, and to prevent other families from suffering the devastating loss that we have had to endure,” said Patrick & Debra Doyle, parents of a victim of fentanyl poisoning.  

“This bill will make a true difference for families across our state. It will help get drug dealers off our streets and give law enforcement more resources to investigate fentanyl poisoning deaths that have devastated families like ours,” said Andy Young, parent of Alex.

“This bill will educate the public in Colorado — especially high school and college kids — on the deadly consequences of fake pills laced with fentanyl. It will begin the process of holding social media companies accountable for allowing illegal and counterfeit drugs to be freely sold on their sites,” Alden Globe, parent of Maddy. 

“We are here for our Grandson Alex Taylor,  who died on Mothers Day 2021, from Fentanyl.  Alex was 17 years old, our sons first born, a big brother, former Colorado State gymnast, and  National Jr. Olympic gymnast and a precious grandson. Our hearts are broken, our wish is to help stop this poison,” said Steve and Judy Taylor, grandparents of Alex Taylor. 

“Throughout Colorado and across the nation, we see too many tragic deaths and countless lives destroyed by fentanyl.  Individuals who are poisoned by fentanyl deserve justice and this bill is a positive step forward.  It provides greater penalties for those who seek to profit from this crisis.  With this bill signing, Colorado takes a strong step in holding dealers more accountable, especially those that cause a death,” said Michael Dougherty, 12th Judicial District Attorney-Boulder. “In addition, this law will help fund law enforcement investigations into drug-related deaths, which is very much needed.   For people struggling with addiction, this law provides much-needed resources and treatment.  Fentanyl is a complex and deadly challenge; it requires a comprehensive response and that’s what we see in HB 1326.”

"I am encouraged by Colorado taking steps to combat the National Fentanyl Crisis. I look forward to the continuation of awareness in our state to save others from the devastation fentanyl causes," said Andrea Thomas, Executive Director of the Voices for Awareness Foundation.

HB22-1278 Behavioral Health Administration - Representatives M. Young & R. Pelton, Senators P. Lee & C. Simpson

“All people in Colorado deserve the opportunity to experience whole-person health,” said Dr. Morgan Medlock, Behavioral Health Administration Commissioner. “The Behavioral Health Administration will center the needs and perspectives of people with lived experience, acknowledge the collective trauma caused by our current system, and coordinate comprehensive care for every person in Colorado, regardless of their history, identity, or disability.”

“In the darkness of the National tragedies in the past 10 days, this historic day demonstrates Colorado’s leadership in establishing the paramount importance of behavioral health in healing our communities with equity and justice,” said Rudy Gonzales, President & CEO of Servicios de La Raza.

"On behalf of our more than 100 member hospitals and health systems, Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) is grateful for HB 22-1278, legislation to establish the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA). It has the potential to better align physical and behavioral health and ensure sufficient resources throughout the care continuum so that Coloradans can access the behavioral health care they need, when they need it,” said Megan Axelrod, Manager of Regulatory Policy at the Colorado Hospital Association. “Our hospitals and health systems envision a health care system where every Coloradan has equitable access to physical and behavioral health delivered seamlessly in their community, and we are hopeful that the transformative changes contemplated by HB 22-1278 could create a system where this vision is realized."

“The Aurora Mental Health Center embraces the strengthening of Colorado’s Behavioral Health System.  We look forward to improving access to care for those seeking quality behavioral health support.  We are proud to be working with our Federal, State and Local communities with the development of the Acute Care Campus in Aurora,” said Debbie Stafford, Legislative Director at Aurora Mental Health Center. “This Campus will encompass partnerships with the Aurora Mental Health Center’s consolidated crisis, substance use, detox, walk in connect to care and crisis stabilization unit, along with planning for a STRIDE Health / Dental Clinic as well as the Aurora Housing Authority 40 – 60 supportive housing units.  This one-stop drop off point will enable law enforcement and first responders to return to service rapidly after bringing someone for services.”