Senator Saland Announces The Historic Passage Of Timothy's Law In Senate

Stephen M. Saland

September 15, 2006

Senator Steve Saland (R,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that legislation to provide parity in insurance coverage for mental illness, also known as Timothy's Law, was passed in the Senate. The legislation will require insurance companies to cover most mental illnesses and require coverage for a broad range of mental illnesses and conditions specifically related to children. Timothy's Law is named for Timothy O'Clair, a 12-year-old boy who committed suicide in 2001.

"I am keenly aware of the need to provide, and have long advocated for adequate coverage for individuals with mental illness, particularly children," said Senator Saland. "I have met with numerous families and advocates impacted by the lack of sufficient insurance coverage for mental health services. As a sponsor of this legislation, I am pleased that the Senate has initiated the passage of Timothy's Law. This legislation will ensure that mental health coverage is provided by insurers and health maintenance organizations on terms comparable to other health care and medical services."

Among its provisions, Timothy's Law will require insurance companies to cover 30 inpatient days of treatment and 20 outpatient days of treatment for all mental illnesses. The legislation would also require insurance companies to fully cover biologically based mental illnesses, including schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia, anorexia and binge eating.

Similarly, the law will provide that insurance coverage for children under age 18 will include treatment for developmental or behavioral disorders, and where there are symptoms of self-destructive or life-threatening behavior.

To ensure that the impact of this bill does not create undue hardship on small businesses throughout the state, the Superintendent of Insurance is authorized to develop and implement a formula which will fully offset additional costs to businesses with 50 or less employees.

Timothy's Law is expected to be acted on by the Assembly when it reconvenes.