Albany—State Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-Fayette) today announced that the New York State Senate has passed “Timothy’s Law” to provide parity in insurance coverage for mental illnesses. Senator Nozzolio was a sponsor of the legislation that requires insurance companies to cover most mental illnesses and provide coverage for a broad range of mental illnesses and conditions specifically related to children. The bill reflects an agreement with the State Assembly that was reached at the end of the regular legislative session.
“The adoption of this important legislation is the culmination of years of hard work to provide help to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, those with mental illness,” said Senator Nozzolio. “It is only right that people suffering from mental illness receive adequate insurance coverage that allows them to receive the support they need. I thank all those who contacted me to express their support of “Timothy’s Law” and worked to see that this measure was adopted.”
Senate action on the legislation (S.8482) was announced today at a Capitol news conference where Senator Nozzolio was joined by Tom and Donna O’Clair of Rotterdam, whose 12-year-old son Timothy took his own life in 2001 after repeated bouts of depression.
“Today is a landmark day for New Yorkers suffering with mental illness and disorders,” said Tom O’Clair. “It’s a wonderful testament to what the Legislature can accomplish when they work together and a heartfelt tribute to Timothy. I thank the Senate and look forward to the Assembly’s return so they can pass it as well.”
The legislation includes the following provisions:
COVERAGE FOR TREATMENT OF MENTAL ILLNESSES
The agreement would require insurance companies to cover 30 inpatient days of treatment and 20 outpatient days of treatment for all mental illnesses.
The agreement would also require insurance companies to fully cover biologically based mental illnesses, including the following: Schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Delusional Disorders, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge Eating.
COVERAGE FOR CHILDREN WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
In addition, the agreed upon bill would require insurance coverage for children under age 18 with attention deficit disorder, disruptive behavior disorders or pervasive development disorders where there are serious suicidal symptoms or other life-threatening self-destructive behavior; significant psychotic symptoms (hallucinations, delusion, bizarre behaviors); behavior caused by emotional disturbances that placed the child at risk of causing personal injury or significant property damage; or behavior caused by emotional disturbances that placed the child at substantial risk of removal from the household.
To address cost concerns raised by small businesses, 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.
The bill would also require the state Insurance Department and the Office of Mental Health to conduct a two year study to determine the effectiveness and impact of mental health parity legislation in New York and other states. When enacted, the bill would take effect January 1, 2007 and sunset on December 31, 2009, to provide for an opportunity to amend the law based on the findings and recommendations of the study.