(The Center Square) - Colorado lawmakers advanced two bills Monday that seek to address the state's shortage of health care workers.
Senate Bill 22-003 would allow community colleges across the state to offer full four-year degree paths for nursing students. It's sponsored by Sens. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, and Kerry Donovan, D-Vail.
Senate Bill 22-056, sponsored by outgoing Sen. President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, would allow the University of Northern Colorado to offer doctoral degree programs in osteopathic medicine, a discipline that is not currently offered because of state regulations.
Both bills were passed by the Senate Monday with unanimous bipartisan support. They now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
"Every Coloradan, regardless of where they live, should be able to access the health care they need, but folks in rural and other underserved areas continue to be heavily impacted by the ongoing doctor shortage," Garcia said.
According to the labor market indicators tracked by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the state's health care sector lost more than 200 employees between November and December 2021.
The health care sector has had a lower recovery rate than other industries like transportation, warehousing, and professional services, with the sector adding back 5,300 jobs over the last 12 months.
"Colorado continues to face a critical health care workforce shortage, impacting patients' ability to access the care they need, and the situation has worsened since the pandemic began," Sen. Buckner said.