December 14, 2006

Timothy's Law passes Legislature, signed into law by governor

Source: NYSUT News Wire

UPDATE: Governor Pataki signed the bill into law December 22, 2006.

At a special legislative session called this week, the state Assembly, keeping to an agreement struck with the state Senate in September, unanimously passed mental-health bill Timothy's Law, which now awaits Gov. Pataki's signature. [NOTE Governor Pataki signed the bill into law December 22, 2006.]

Timothy's Law would require all group health insurance and HMO-type policies to provide at least 30 inpatient days and 20 outpatient visits per year for mental health treatment. The cost for this benefit to employers of 50 and fewer employees would be subsidized in full through the state's General Fund.

Large employers would also be required to provide unlimited treatment for adults and children who have biologically-based mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, major depression, bipolar and delusional disorders, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bulimia and anorexia.

Timothy's Law also ensures co-payments and deductibles compare to other services.

The New York State Psychological Association, which is affiliated with NYSUT, and NYSUT's Health Care Professionals Council have lobbied aggressively for Timothy's Law.

Timothy's Law is named after Timothy O'Clair, who took his life at age 12. In order to get mental health coverage, his parents were forced to make him a ward of the state after their insurance refused to pay for his care and the family ran out of money.