Colorado considers private transportation services for behavioral problems

Someone suffering from a behavioral health crisis in Colorado may soon be transported to a care facility without blaring sirens and emergency lights, under a new bill being considered by lawmakers.

The measure, HB 1284, creates a regulatory and service system to provide secure transportation services for individuals experiencing emotional or behavioral problems that do not merit an arrest. The person will be transported to a local hospital or crisis centers.

Local county commissioners will issue a license to a private company or another entity to transport the individual, say the bill’s sponsors. The vehicle used will be nondescript and without official designation.

The idea is not to subject the individual in trouble to more stress and embarrassment, said Rep. Traci Kraft-Tharp, a co-sponsor of the bill.

“This will help people struggling in the most vulnerable times of their lives,” Kraft-Tharp told the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee, which passed the bill unanimously last week.

A private company, since they are responsible for only one person, will also get the individual to a care facility sooner. They will also relieve the local police or sheriff’s department from the responsibility for providing the transportation.

“People sometimes sit for 19 up to 27 hours before they are taken to a mental health crisis center or otherwise available facility,” Kraft-Tharp said. “This will help take the pressure off all the people in this situation.”

The private transportation company will be paid by Medicaid or private insurance, Kraft-Tharp said.

The bill is now being considered by the House Appropriations Committee.