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Support HB20-1139 Peer Support Professionals

Position Statement from Mental Health Colorado
POSTPONED INDEFINITELY
Support HB20-1139: Peer Support Professionals
Sponsors: Reps. Caraveo and Pelton

In the past two years, the number of Coloradans who didn’t receive essential mental health or substance use¹ services nearly doubled. In 2019, Colorado’s behavioral health workforce only met 30% of the state’s needs². Peers support professionals can significantly alleviate the gap. Peer supporters are individuals in recovery from mental health/substance use conditions who help others experiencing similar situations.

Problem: Medicaid only reimburses peer support services in a clinical facility, which limits the scope of peer support services in other settings such as jails, OB/GYN clinics, and emergency departments. In addition, without additional educational opportunities, peer supporters reach a professional ceiling, resulting in burnout.

Results of Peer Services:

Data shows that peer support services cut hospitalizations in half, increase engagement in self-care and wellness, and decrease psychotic symptoms.³

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities found that using peer support services in treatment saved an average of $5,494/person for the state.¹ª

HB20-1139 would:

  • Improve how peer support services are billed under Medicaid by allowing Recovery Support Services Organizations (RSSOs) to bill for these services.
    • RSSOs are organizations that provide recovery-focused services and act as an alternative billing mechanism allowing for appropriate oversight of peer-delivered care.
  • Create a peer tax credit to enhance the behavioral health workforce and end stigma.
    • The National Associate for Peer Supporters found that over 80% were interested in more job training.

For more information please contact Lauren Snyder, lsnyder@mentalhealthcolorado.org, 970.946.8029

¹2019 Colorado Health Access Survey: Progress in Peril
²Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
³Peer support among persons with severe mental illnesses:a review of evidence and experience
¹ªA Report on Colorado’s Behavioral Health Peer Provider Workforce


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