Office of Behavioral Health 2020 Legislative Session Budget Recap

The Long Bill brought cuts to almost every line item pertaining to community-based mental health, substance use treatment and prevention services, and integrated behavioral health services, totaling more than $20 million in cuts to the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) Community Programs Division for Fiscal Year 20-21. 

However, many of the cuts were to areas of our budget that have been underspent or to brand-new programs, lessening the impact of cuts to existing services to Coloradans. In addition, OBH and providers will receive federal CARES Act funding for COVID-related expenses, and those dollars and other federal grant dollars will help mitigate cuts.

  • Although residential substance use disorder (SUD) services experienced significant cuts, the final Long Bill retained most of the funding ($7.6 million) for the Circle Program, and OBH has reallocated and added federal funds to Managed Service Organization (MSO) contracts in order to sustain current residential capacity.

  • OBH recently applied for the next round of State Opioid Response Grant funding, which will award Colorado $20.8 million annually for two years starting in September. Many of the goals of that grant application align with areas where Colorado was forced to make budget cuts, and we will be able to use these funds strategically to lessen the impact of state budget cuts. The grant budget and project narrative are available here.

  • House Bill (HB) 20-1391 cut funding appropriated to OBH by HB 19-1287 to support a rural SUD capacity grant program and a behavioral health capacity tracking system and care navigation program. OBH will retain some funding for care navigation at the hotline and is working with CDPHE to leverage existing bed tracking capacity to ensure implementation of this tool.

  • Despite cuts to Senate Bill 19-195 through HB 20-1384, OBH and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing plan to continue working together toward the objectives and goals of the bill. OBH will release the finalized recommendations for the menu of behavioral health screening tools, a standardized assessment tool and single statewide referral and entry point recommendations this summer.

  • Although the Long Bill brought budget reductions to two aspects of Colorado Crisis Services programming - the secure transportation pilot and marketing -- the broader crisis system remains fully funded. 

  • OBH will receive more than $13 million from HB 20-1411 for COVID-related expenses and shifts in programming to ensure availability of services during the pandemic. The money was allocated for community mental health centers, MSOs, crisis providers, co-responder, and transition services, and it must be spent by the end of the calendar year. Working with our partners, we are finalizing plans and will get that money out the door as soon as it is available.

In addition to the budget package, the General Assembly passed several behavioral health-related bills. Their status can be found on this list. If you have questions about the budget, please reach out via the Response to COVID-19 Form.