Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny: Timothy’s Law Expanded to Public Health Insurance Programs

June 12, 2007
Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island, Dyker Heights) said 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 Brook-Krasny, 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 earlier this year.

“Timothy’s Law was enacted to help ensure that individuals who need mental health care are no longer second-class citizens in our health insurance system,” Assemblymember Brook-Krasny said. “But it’s important this program be expanded to include state programs – providing comparable coverage for mental-health and substance-abuse services for all children and adults in the Child Health Insurance Plan and Family Health Plus Program.”

Brook-Krasny said expanding the coverage 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.

“We know from the tragic story of Timothy O’Clair – who took his life just before his 13th birthday after battling mental illness since age 7 – that the consequence for untreated mental illness is far too great,” Assemblymember Brook-Krasny said. “Timothy’s legacy will help ensure that mental health is as much a public health issue as any disease.”

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 Brook-Krasny. Timothy’s Law helps millions of individuals in a dignified, compassionate and cost effective approach to treatment for mental illness and health disorders.

“This measure would rightly ensure fairness in mental-health and related substance-abuse treatment for over one million children and families served by the Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus programs,” Assemblymember Brook-Krasny said. “I urge the Senate to join us in passing this crucial legislation. In New York there are 1.3 million people counting on the Legislature to amend these programs and eliminate the discriminatory policies keeping them from the coverage and treatment they need and deserve.”