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The Behavioral Health Task Force was created by Gov. Jared Polis to reform Colorado’s health care system.

Applications are being accepted for anyone interested in serving on a task force that will overhaul Colorado’s behavioral health care system.

The 25-member Behavioral Health Task Force was announced by Gov. Jared Polis on April 8 to reform the way Colorado delivers care to people battling mental illness and substance abuse.

A special report by The Gazette this month found Colorado’s efforts to make health care effective, accessible and affordable have been inconsistent at best and a failure at worst. Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans are unable to access care in a system that is often confusing, unaffordable and inadequate to meet demand.

The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health will lead the effort.

The main task force will be made up of 25 members, and it must “represent diverse and balanced perspectives, including consumers and families dealing with behavioral health issues, key executive agencies representing state and local government, criminal justice experts, advocacy groups, behavioral health providers, and others,” according to state officials.

In addition, three subcommtitees with 25 members each will be formed to tackle three specific issues: reforming the behavioral health safety net system, improving care for children and developing a long-term plan to improve care for criminal defendants who either are — or are believed to be — mentally incompetent to stand trial.

A statewide blueprint of reforms is due June 2020, and the state must be ready to start implementing those changes a month later.

A plan specifically to improve competency care for criminal defendants is due much earlier — Jan. 1 — to meet the terms of a consent decree the Department of Human Services signed last month with a Denver-based nonprofit, which had sued the state over its failing treatment system.

To apply to serve on the task force or the three subcommittees, visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/colorado-behavioral-health-task-force.

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