Mental Health Reform

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A sweeping overhaul of Nebraska's mental-health system is on schedule despite about a month delay in naming an oversight commission.

The oversight commission charged with monitoring the reform will not have its first meeting until at least July.

Earlier this year, lawmakers passed and Gov. Mike Johanns signed into law a mental-health system reform package.

The plan will close state mental hospitals in Norfolk and Hastings in favor of more community-based programs.

Senator Jim Jensen released the names of the 20 commission members Wednesday, about a month later than expected.

And the debate over membership likely will continue into next year's legislative session.

Jensen said he hopes to change state law next year to allow the oversight group to expand by three to five members to include more consumers and more representatives from western Nebraska.

Jensen is a commission member, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee and a major advocate for reform.