Assemblymember Bronson’s Legislation Makes Mental Health Care More Affordable and Accessible

Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Henrietta) announced that a pair of bills he authored expanding access to mental health services and ensuring they’re covered under Medicaid and commercial insurance plans has passed the Assembly.

“Mental health care is vital to New Yorkers’ well-being, just like physical medical health care,” Bronson said. “Yet insurers continue to treat mental health as a luxury, putting needed care out of reach. No one with mental illness should ever be denied care or feel belittled or stigmatized, and this legislation opens the door for more New Yorkers to get the help they need.”

The first bill requires insurers to cover outpatient treatment by mental health practitioners, as they are already required to do for treatment by psychiatrists and psychologists (A.2163). Under current law, mental health practitioners aren’t included as allowable providers of outpatient mental health services, allowing insurers to refuse coverage. The legislation aims to strengthen Timothy’s Law, which was signed into law in 2007 to help prevent health insurance companies from limiting coverage for mental illness.

The second piece of legislation allows mental health practitioners to bill Medicaid directly for their services, ensuring more New Yorkers have access to quality mental health care and services (A.10707-A). Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness, yet only about half seek treatment.1,2 Expanding coverage and opening up options lets more people receive vital care, especially in upstate communities where there are fewer providers to choose from, Bronson noted.