Senator Breslin Calls Timothy's Law An Historic First Step For New Yorkers

Neil D. Breslin

September 19, 2006

State Senator Neil D. Breslin (D-Albany) today applauded the Senate's passage of a compromise mental health parity bill known as "Timothy's Law" and called it "a great first step towards true parity by giving families a much better ability to get their loved ones the critical care they need and deserve."

Senator Breslin also praised his Democratic colleague, Senator Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), the ranking Democrat on the Senate's Mental Health Committee, for his tireless advocacy and near daily calls for the passage of Timothy's Law.

"Senator Duane deserves much of the credit for getting any mental health parity passed. Without his efforts, we would never have passed this landmark legislation that requires insurance companies to cover mental health treatment on par with physical health treatment," Senator Breslin said.

"With the passage of this bill, the glaring inequity between physical and mental health coverage that has plagued New York families for decades is finally over," Senator Breslin continued. "The next step is full parity that includes coverage for mental illnesses related to substance abuse, addiction disorders and post-traumatic stress, all aspects advocates hoped to see included in the law."

State Democrats in the Senate and Assembly have pressed for a mental health parity law for years. Both houses reached a compromise agreement in the final hours of the 2006 legislative session in June. Leaders agreed to take up the controversial measure the next time they convened, a promise they recently fulfilled.

"There is undeniable evidence that mental illness is widespread across our nation, but here in New York State, without mental health parity legislation, it often went untreated," Senator Breslin said. "We know untreated mental illness is far more costly to society than the price of full mental health insurance."

Under the terms of the agreement, health insurance policies sold in New York State and not exempt under federal law would require:

-- insured persons to have a minimum of 20 outpatient visits for mental illness and 30
inpatient days a year

-- the state to pick up the extra cost of providing that for businesses with 50 or fewer

-- larger employers have to provide additional coverage for adults with biologically based
mental illnesses (such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and anorexia) as well as conditions
specifically related to children.

Timothy’s Law is named for Timothy O’Clair, who, after struggling with mental illness,
took his own life before his 13th birthday. Timothy’s limited insurance coverage stopped before his treatment needs had been met.

"This legislation helps to correct a terrible, long-standing wrong: the second class status of mental health treatment in New York. But rest assured, my Senate Democratic colleagues and I will continue to fight until full mental health parity is a reality for every New Yorker," he concluded.