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A Colorado Senate committee approved a bill that would allow those with behavioral or mental health disorders to create an advance medical plan for possible future crises.

Already adults can write advance medical orders on the type of treatment they prefer and establish a set of procedures in case they’re unable to provide consent or make their own decisions.

House Bill 1044, co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, would extend those advance orders to those unable to make their own decisions due to depression, schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.

The House approved the bill last month, and the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services passed it Thursday along party lines, sending it to the Senate floor, where Todd said it might be heard next week.

Several people testified before the committee that their experiences with medical professionals would have been much different in past crises, had they had been allowed to use advance medical directives.

Days in solitary confinement could have been avoided. Different doctors would have been called. Certain hospitals would have been avoided, they said.

The bill allows potential patients to outline preferences regarding treatment, medication and alternative treatments preferences, among other things.

Evan Silverman, who told the committee he suffers from schizophrenia, recalled one hospital stay that lasted two months. With an advance plan, that stay would have been much shorter, he said, “and I certainly would not have spent 13 days in isolation.”

“We want to give providers the tools and options that we’ve chosen but that will work for them as well,” another witness said.

Sen. James Smallwood, R-Parker, one of the two Republicans who voted against the measure, said he supports the substance of the bill, but said the language opens patients to some possible “extremely dangerous unintended consequences.”

In particular, Smallwood expressed concerns that if someone has an advance plan but is unable to make decisions for himself or herself, it’s unclear how medical professionals would become aware of that plan.

He urged the bill’s sponsors to tweak the measure before it’s heard on the Senate floor.

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