Ramos: Timothy’s Law Expanded

Legislation will extend mental health coverage to state programs

Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) announced the Assembly has passed legislation requiring public health insurance programs to provide coverage that includes treatment for mental illnesses, emotional disorders, alcoholism and substance abuse comparable to that provided for physical ailments (A.8617).

According to Assemblyman Ramos, the legislation would extend the same rights of coverage for mental-health and chemical-and substance-abuse services to the Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus programs that were put in place for private insurance companies when Timothy’s Law was enacted on January 1, 2007.

“Before Timothy’s Law was enacted, health insurance providers were permitted to discriminate against those with mental health needs by charging much higher co-payments and deductibles for inpatient and outpatient care,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “It’s important to expand the program enacted earlier this year to include state programs – providing comparable coverage for all children and adults in the Child Health Insurance Plan and Family Health Plus Program.”

Assemblyman Ramos said expanding the program will help in diagnosing and treating mental illness and substance abuse more quickly and thoroughly, placing less of a burden on public resources and businesses.

The legislation is named for 12-year-old Timothy O’Clair, who took his life after battling mental illness since age 7.

“The tragic story of young Timothy has taught us that the consequence for untreated mental illness is far too great,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “Timothy’s legacy will help ensure that individuals with mental health needs are no longer treated as second-class citizens in our health insurance system.”

After a decade of steadfast and vigilant advocacy, Timothy’s Law was enacted and mental-health parity became a much needed reality in New York State, according to Assemblyman Ramos.

“This measure would rightly ensure fairness in mental-health and related substance-abuse treatment in New York State,” Assemblyman Ramos said. “There are 1.3 million people in New York counting on the Legislature to expand Timothy’s Law and end the practice of discriminating against those who need care the most. I urge the Senate to join us in passing this crucial legislation.”