Eye on the Legislature

March 12, 2018

House Bill 18-1177: Titled “Concerning Multiple Approaches to Help Prevent Youth Suicide,” HB 1177 includes statistics so dire as to cause this writer to ask how can it be languishing at two months into the legislative session. 

These points are from the General Assembly’s declaration:

  • The Centers for Disease Control found suicide to be the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013 and is currently the leading cause of death for Colorado youth who are ten through fourteen years of age;
  • According to the American Association of Suicidology, the suicide rate for youth who are ten through fourteen years of age has increased by more than fifty percent over the past three decades; and
  • Youth who are ten through fourteen years of age often avoid obtaining, or are legally unable to obtain without parental consent, outpatient psychotherapy services that would help them prior to reaching crisis levels because they are embarrassed or concerned about speaking with their parents about their mental health concerns and situation.

      It is the further declaration of the General Assembly that “it is a matter of statewide concern to allow youth who are twelve years of age and older to have legal access to outpatient psychotherapy services without the consent or notification to the youth’s parents or legal guardian.” (NOTE: A mental health provider must notify parents if the youth communicates a clear and imminent intent or threat to inflict serious bodily harm on him or herself or others.)

The goals set forth of HB 1177’s new addition to Colorado Revised Statutes, 12-43-202.5, are these:

  • providing these youth (twelve years of age and older) with access to outpatient psychotherapy services is intended to reduce youth suicides (current law is for psychotherapy services without a parent’s consent at age 15);
  • allow mental health providers to work with youth to teach them functional copying skills; and
  • mental health providers would further have the opportunity to help these youth build healthy connections with parents or legal guardians by increasing communications and strengthening the bond between parent and child, thus building an ongoing, non-clinical support system for the youth to use to manage his or her mental health concerns.

      Additional (and significant) provisions of HB 1177 “require the Office of Suicide Prevention in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), as part of its Colorado Suicide and Youth Suicide Prevention Plan, to do the following:

  • establish and pay for a coordinated program of youth suicide prevention training that includes at least three non-profit organizations that will provide training to people and professionals who regularly interact with youth;
  • maintain and publicize a list of approved nonprofit organizations that can provide training on youth suicide prevention; and
  • conduct a statewide awareness campaign on youth suicide.

   HB 1177 has numerous other provisions regarding incredibly important youth suicide, and it is sad to see it yet to have its first committee hearing at this date in the legislative session.

Sponsors of House Bill 18-1177: Representative Michaelson Jenet (D-Adams) 866-2945; and Senators Stephen Fenberg (D-Boulder) 866-4872, and Senator Don Coram, (R-Archuleta, Dolores, LaPlata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, San Miguel), 866-4884.

House Bill 1148:  Titled “Concerning The Prohibition Against a Carrier Requiring Step Therapy for Covered Persons With Stage Four Advanced Metastatic Cancer,” HB 1148 “prohibits health insurers from requiring that a person undergo step therapy prior to receiving a federally approved drug for stage four metastatic cancer if the use of the drug is consistent with best practices for treatment of the cancer.” The bill has passed its third reading.

For those unfamiliar with Step therapy,  it is “a protocol under which a health insurer first requires that a certain drug or sequence of drugs be tried before coverage is provided for the drug that was recommended by a health care provider.”

As further support for HB 1148, under current law, “health insurers are only prohibited from requiring step therapy in instances where a prescription drug mandated under a step therapy protocol has previously been tried by the covered person but was discontinued due to lack of efficacy or adverse event.”

If passed and enacted, state and local governments may expect an increase in costs for employee health insurance may increase.

Sponsors of House Bill 18-1148:  Representative Michaelson Jenet (D-Adams) 866-2945; and Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa, Baca, Bent, Conejos, Crowley, Custer, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Mineral, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo, Rio Grande, Saguache) 866-4875.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at doris@dorisbeaver.com.