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Colorado’s Office of Behavioral Health Temporarily Increases Telehealth Options

Colorado’s Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) has released new guidance regarding the availability of behavioral health services during this time, including how services might be provided as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. OBH has specifically determined that the following services are considered “critical” and will remain open during this time:

  • Colorado Crisis Services, including the statewide hotline, walk-in centers, crisis stabilization units, and mobile crisis services
  • Withdrawal management programs
  • Residential programs and services provided in facilities (e.g., jails and youth services)
  • Opioid treatment programs
  • Medication-assisted treatment

OBH also stated that all outpatient services should be provided via telehealth to allow such services to continue if at all possible despite social distancing requirements.

Consistent with this intent, OBH has issued a blanket waiver allowing driving under the influence (“DUI”) programs to be provided via telehealth in lieu of face-to-face meetings that are otherwise required. The waiver applies through July 1, 2020, and is applicable to agencies listed as Substance Use Disorder facilities providing DUI, DWAI, and Flying or Boating Under the Influence services. An agency does not need to file a waiver application for the waiver to apply.

OBH also confirmed that Gov. Polis’ state of emergency declaration allows for the delivery of services via telehealth for criminal justice programs and those subject to the Children and Youth Mental Health Treatment Act. OBH normally requires a face-to-face meeting for these services. Per Gov. Polis’ declaration, telehealth may be used where a face-to-face meeting is deemed to put patients and staff at considerable risk. Any entity choosing to implement these telehealth options should notify program staff. You may also notify OBH through the OBH question form, which can be found here:

Additional guidance regarding OBH’s recommendations and guidance related to COVID-19 can be found on the OBH COVID-19 resource page:

Our healthcare attorneys continue to closely follow these developments, as well as many others related to OBH regulations and the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have specific questions about how the OBH rules changes affect you and your organization, please contact us to discuss it.

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