Bonacic: Senate Approves "timothy's Law"

John J. Bonacic

September 18, 2006

State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mount Hope) announced today that the Senate has acted upon Timothy's Law, Senate bill 8482, which provides parity in health insurance coverage for mental illnesses. The bill requires insurance companies to cover most mental illnesses and would require coverage for a broad range of mental illnesses and conditions specifically related to children. This measure was agreed upon by both houses of the Legislature at the end of the regular Session.

"I was pleased to wholeheartedly support and be a sponsor of this critically important bill," stated Senator Bonacic. "Whether one has mental or physical conditions, everyone should all have access to comprehensive, quality health care when necessary."

Senator Bonacic commended Tom O'Clair for his tireless efforts in gaining passage of the bill which was named for his son, Timothy. Senator Bonacic stated, "In quoting a leader who has advocated on behalf of people living with mental illness for several years, I believe this will describe the effectiveness of Tom and Donna O'Clair's work, 'Recognizing that advocacy is best served when driven by the heart, a person living with mental illness who can relate their relationship to the value and shortcomings of the mental health system is clearly the best advocate.'"

Provisions of Timothy's Law include:

Requiring insurance companies to cover 30 inpatient days of treatment and 20 outpatient days of treatment for all mental illnesses.

Requiring companies to fully cover biologically based mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, major depression, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge eating.

Requiring companies to cover children's mental health disorders such as attention deficit disorder, suicidal symptoms, life threatening self destructive behavior, and behavior caused byemotional disturbances.

The agreement directs the state Superintendent of Insurance to develop a methodology that would hold businesses with 50 or fewer employees harmless from any increase in insurance premiums that result from this measure.

"Too many families do not have access to proper mental health treatment. This bill simply assists people in obtaining the treatment they need and deserve. No one should have to suffer," Senator Bonacic concluded.

Senate bill 8482 was approved with bipartisan support and will now be sent the Assembly for action.