Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr., together with the members of the Senate Majority, unveiled a proposal that would provide parity in insurance coverage for mental illnesses. The proposal 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.
"Mental illnesses are serious conditions that require proper treatment, but many people do not have access to the necessary treatment," said Fuschillo. "This plan would provide parity in coverage and would help people obtain the appropriate treatment and care, without escalating insurance costs for small businesses."
The Senate's proposal would:
- Require insurance companies to cover biologically based mental illnesses, such as Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Delusional Disorders, Paranoia, Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge Eating.
- 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.
- 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. If enacted, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2005 and sunset on December 31, 2007, to provide for an opportunity to amend the law based on the findings and recommendations of the study.
Businesses with 50 or fewer employees, as well as those who experienced an insurance rate increase of two percent or more as a direct result of having to provide this coverage, would be granted an exemption.
"The Senate has taken a significant step forward which should bring us close to enactment of a mental health parity law in New York State, which adequately addresses the mental health needs of New Yorkers," said Alan Lubin, executive vice president of the New York State United Teachers, representing the New York State Psychological Association.