Assemblymember Steck Announces New Law Expanding CHAMP Program

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that a bill he sponsored and helped pass to expand the scope of the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Health Project (CHAMP) program has been signed into law (Ch. 517 of 2022).

“Every New Yorker deserves access to high-quality, affordable mental health care, but for many, navigating the complicated insurance system poses an additional challenge in getting the help they need,” said Steck. “For years, the CHAMP program has helped New Yorkers directly access critical mental health services. My new law expands the scope of the CHAMP program by allowing it to coordinate with other state agencies to help New Yorkers address mental and behavioral health challenges.”

In 2018, CHAMP created an ombudsman program to help individuals access treatment and insurance coverage for crucial services and investigate and resolve complaints and violations of rights. The program also represents individuals and advocates in a host of issue areas, including access to treatment, denial of services, access to medication, coverage, discrimination issues, medical benefits, system navigation, enrollment referral and legal assistance for insurance appeals.

Steck’s new law expands the CHAMP program to include representatives from other state agencies whose clients face additional barriers to accessing care. These include the Division of Veterans’ Services, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Children and Family Services, Department of Corrections and other state agencies. As individuals who primarily interact with these agencies often struggle to access the services they require, expanding agency representation within the CHAMP program will help New Yorkers overcome additional barriers to accessing mental health and substance use services, noted Steck.

The CHAMP program can help New Yorkers understand what mental health and substance use disorder benefits are covered by their insurance and how to access them, as well as help find care providers and assist with obtaining needed approvals.[1] For more information on the CHAMP program, you can call their free and confidential helpline at 888-614-5400.