New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee announced today agreement on "Timothy's Law" legislation that would provide parity in insurance coverage for mental illnesses. The agreement would require insurance companies to cover most mental illnesses and would require coverage for a broad range of mental illnesses and conditions specifically related to children. The legislative agreement is expected to be acted on the next time the Legislature reconvenes.
"This agreement would provide parity in coverage and represents a vital step in providing mental health services for individuals with mental illnesses. I want to especially thank the many mental health advocates with whom I have worked, my colleagues in government Senator Majority Leader Joe Bruno, Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senator Tom Libous and Assemblyman Paul Tonko, as well as the many other caring New Yorkers for the their hard work and assistance which culminated in an agreement on such a complex and critically important issue. While the Governor did not gives us a message of necessity in time, I expect the agreement we reached today will ensure that Timothy's Law legislation will come to a vote and successfully pass when the legislature returns," said Morahan.
The agreement 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/physchotic 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 of 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.