Fax from Albany
April 8, 2003
Board Members, Affiliate Executive Directors, Interested Parties
Joseph A. Glazer, Esq., President/CEO
(518) 434-0439 ext. 20
Great Step, in Memory of Timothy: The drive to pass Timothy’s
Law took a huge step forward this week, as Senator Tom Libous, joined
by thirty-one of his Senate colleagues, and Assemblyman Paul Tonko, joined
by fifty fellow members of the Assembly, became the sponsors of the proposal
to adopt Timothy’s Law.
for the first time in the history of our efforts to eliminate discrimination
against mental health and chemical dependency in health insurance policies,
we have a bill, introduced in both houses, that has enough sponsors to
actually pass and make its way to the Governor’s desk.
Law will be a ‘uni’ bill – a fancy way of saying that
the exact same bill is under review simultaneously in both houses. In
that an identical bill must pass both houses to become law, this is the
first step in achieving that goal.
is most thrilling, however, is the broad support that Timothy’s
Law is garnering. While this effort has long found favor in the Assembly
and among the true believers in the Senate, the overwhelming number of
Republican Senate co-sponsors, 32, is indicative of the force of the issue
and resonance of Timothy’s story.
show our immense appreciation, we are urging everyone who resides or works
in the district of the Senators and Assemblymembers who joined in sponsorship
of this bill to send a brief letter to thank them for their support of
Timothy’s Law. This list of Senators and Assemblymembers follows
this sample text.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for sponsoring Timothy’s
barriers Tom and Donna O’Clair encountered in getting their son
Timothy the services he needed were not unique, but rather were the
limits on coverage that nearly all insurance policies have for mental
health and chemical dependency services. Timothy’s Law will ensure
that families like the O’Clairs have access to the services and
treatment they need to prevent another tragedy, like Timothy’s
suicide, from happening again.
appreciate your support of this legislation to eliminate discrimination
in health insurance coverage for mental health and chemical dependency
and Assemblymembers on Timothy’s Law
Balboni – 803 LOB
Bonacic - 815 LOB
DeFrancisco – 307 LOB
Farley – 412 LOB
Flanagan – 817LOB
Fuschillo – 947 LOB
Golden – 946 LOB
Hannon – 708 LOB
Hoffman – 811 LOB
Johnson – 913 LOB
Larkin – 612 LOB
LaValle – 806 LOB
Libous – 512 LOB
Little – 903 LOB
Maltese – 413 LOB
Marcellino – 812 LOB
Marchi – 416 LOB
Maziarz – 805 LOB
McGee – 814 LOB
Mendez – 420 CAP
Morahan – 848 LOB
Nozzolio – 409 LOB
Padavan – 505 CAP
Rath – 707 LOB
Robach – 902 LOB
Saland – 609 LOB
Skelos- 503 LOB
Spano – 509 LOB
Trunzo – 711 LOB
Velella – 501 CAP
Volker – 427 CAP
Wright – 915 LOB
Benjamin – 548 LOB
Bing – 827 LOB
Bradley – 529 LOB
Brennan – 741 LOB
Canestrari – 717 LOB
Clark – 702 LOB
Cohen, A. – 435 LOB
Cohen, M. – 456 LOB
Colton – 733 LOB
Cook – 331 LOB
Cusick – 323 LOB
Cymbrowitz – 538 LOB
DiNapoli – 625 LOB
Dinowitz – 627 LOB
Eddington – 639 LOB
Englebright – 824 LOB
Galef – 540 LOB
Gianaris – 432 LOB
Glick – 844 LOB
Gottfried – 822 LOB
Grannis – 712 LOB
Green – 622 LOB
Greene – 939 LOB
Grodenchik – 920 LOB
Gromack – 845 LOB
Hikind – 551 LOB
Jacobs – 736 LOB
Karben – 530 LOB
Koon – 643 LOB
Lafayette – 646 LOB
Lavelle – 833 LOB
McEneny – 648 LOB
McLaughlin – 704 LOB
Millman – 510 LOB
O’Donnell – 819 LOB
Ortiz – 542 LOB
Paulin – 327 LOB
Pheffer – 941 LOB
Powell – 527 LOB
Rivera, J. – 536 LOB
Rivera, P. – 826 LOB
Sanders – 836 LOB
Seddio – 555 LOB
Sidikman – 727 LOB
Stringer – 842 LOB
Sweeney – 837 LOB
Tonko - 713 LOB
Towns - 626 LOB
Weinstein – 831 LOB
Weisenberg – 731 LOB
All Senate offices are in Albany, NY 12247
All Assembly offices are in Albany, NY 12248
and Senators hold Joint Press Conference on Proposed Closure of Middletown
of Assemblyman Gunther’s Press Release:
GUNTHER AND COLLEAGUES VOICE
OPPOSITION TO HOSPITAL CLOSURE
Jacob Gunther, Mental Health Committee Chairman Peter Rivera, and
Senator John Bonacic host press conference at Middletown Psychiatric Center
Jacob E. Gunther, III (D/C – Forestburgh) announced today that he
will be visiting Middletown Psychiatric Center on Monday, April 7th at
10:00 a.m. with his colleagues, Assembly Mental Health Committee Chairman
Peter Rivera, and Senators John Bonacic and William Larkin.
stated, “I’m delighted Assemblyman Rivera, Chairman of the
Mental Health Committee, as well as Senators Bonacic and Larkin have joined
me on the grounds of Middletown Psychiatric Center (MPC) today. We are
here to underscore the valuable treatment and services this facility provides
to our most vulnerable citizens here in Middletown and its surrounding
communities. The Governor’s proposal to close this facility is bad
public policy and our community will be left with a tremendous void should
the closing occur.”
the plan?” questioned Assemblyman Gunther. “Not only does
Governor Pataki intend to shut down this Center, his budget proposal also
lacks a comprehensive, community-based treatment plan as well as the appropriate
funding levels for such a plan. What will these people and their families
do?,” Gunther continued. “I fear many will end up homeless,
living on the street, or in correctional facilities. This will come at
a greater cost to patients, families, and taxpayers. Closing Middletown
Psychiatric Center certainly will have a significant negative impact on
the quality of life in our communities.”
humanity of this moment should not escape us. As we stand in front of
a facility that was built to represent the hope and comfort for the many
patients and families in need of mental health services in this region,
I say to those that plan to close the facility and displace that hope
and comfort is that we will not turn our backs on the people who need
us most,” stated Assemblyman Peter Rivera.
Rivera added, “There are those who would sacrifice the most helpless
among up to climb up in the world. There are those who want to dismantle
the most humane mechanisms developed to manage our work in the field of
mental health. The planned closing of this facility, without a sound alternative
to keeping services and jobs in this community, is an affront to the laws
of this land, to its people, to our notion of justice, and simple decency.”
conference will be held in front of Tuckerman Hall on the grounds of Middletown
Psychiatric Center beginning at 10:00 a.m. on April 7th.
Available at MHANYS:
is looking for a Project Specialist for Individual Placement and
Full Time - 35 hr/wk.
develop, manage and implement supported employment and related programs
for a private non-profit. Applicant must be a detail oriented person with
professional experience in employment; facilitation and organizational
skills; ability to work independently; capable of research and assisting
in grant writing. A four-year college degree and related work experience;
understanding of MS Word, Access, Outlook; interpersonal communication
skills; writing/editing skills. Starting low to mid twenties & benefits.
Mental Health Association in New York State is an equal opportunity employer.
Send or fax resumes to: 194 Washington Ave. Suite 415, Albany, NY 12210.
FAX (518) 427-8676.
health parity editorial ill-conceived - Letter to the Editor.
Daily Gazette, April 2, 2003
March 24 editorial, "Beware mental health parity," was highly
disappointing and perplexing.
The writer appears to have been impaired by acceptance of the managed-care
point of view regarding the importance of mental health services in the
total health life of patients.
limited and prejudicial point of view is not only at variance with almost
everyone in health care and government - except the insurance and managed-care
companies, of course - it also points out the stigma and shortsightedness
of many who look at short-term costs but fail to look at long-term savings.
editorial suggests that mental health coverage be "at least restricted
to severe mental illnesses." Certainly, the writer can go to a physician
because of a pain in the knee or a headache, and that visit will be covered
by his or her insurance.
are not the initial stages of a mental illness as important to diagnose
and treat as those of a physical illness? And, if the writer has a chronic
cough or backache that he/she determines must be treated by a doctor,
what would the writer's response be if he/she were limited to 20 office
visits per year, when the 21st or 28th visit would provide the relief
serious mental illness (SMI) is used as the criterion in parity legislation
(as your editorial suggests), it discriminates against children and adults
whose illnesses can also be seriously disabling, but who do not fit neatly
within the SMI diagnoses.
typically excluded in "SMI only" bills include dementia, anorexia
nervosa and bulimia, learning disorders associated with brain damage,
phobias, post-traumatic-stress syndrome, substance abuse/addiction, as
well as children with serious emotional disorders (SED). These are diagnoses
that can be just as debilitating as an SMI. All categories of mental illness
should be included in parity legislation.
Legislature must bring care for mental illnesses on a par with care for
physical illnesses. Thirty-seven other states already have implemented
mental health parity. Of those, 16 have put full parity in place - and
some with parity for both substance abuse and mental health coverage.
Employer budgets have not imploded for companies in these states, and
mental health coverage has not been dropped in any significant way.
health parity legislation is fair and necessary. And we applaud the more
reasoned approaches to mental health parity that The New York Times,
Washington Post and Los Angeles Times have taken. Should
you, or the state Legislature, be doing any less?
The writer is president of New York State Psychological Association.
plan for disabled delayed.
By Elizabeth Benjamin
Albany Times Union, April 3, 2003
Program offering a "buy-in" to avoid losing health care coverage
now is scheduled to start in July.
missing the April 1 start of a long-awaited program to allow disabled
New Yorkers to work full time without losing their Medicaid benefits,
the state will have it running in July, Gov. George Pataki assured the
disability community Wednesday.
as the Medicaid "buy-in," the program approved by the Legislature
last year would allow some 20,000 disabled individuals to pay a premium
and continue to receive health services rather than being kicked off the
Medicaid rolls for earning too much money.
the program, a disabled individual can earn up to 250 percent of the poverty
level - about $46,170 for a single person - and still qualify to receive
care under Medicaid. Anyone earning more than $26,000 annually will have
to pay in order to continue their Medicaid benefits. The premium would
vary with a person's income, state officials said, and could be as high
buy-in initiative will empower working individuals with disabilities to
pursue their livelihoods while continuing to receive comprehensive state
health insurance coverage," the governor said in a prepared statement.
also announced 15 community-based organizations would each receive a $10,000
grant to assist people seeking to enroll in the Medicaid buy-in program,
including the following Albany-based groups: the Brain Injury Association
of New York State, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Services, the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State Inc., and the
Mental Health Empowerment Project.
addition, the governor said he has established the New York State Most
Integrated Setting Council to explore and recommend ways to ensure people
with disabilities can receive care at home if possible. The council's
actions will be guided by principles laid out in the federal Olmstead
Act to empower people with disabilities to live more independently, Pataki
advocates cheered the news that Pataki had committed to a new timetable
for the start of the buy-in program.
is a profound change and a profound opportunity," said Harvey Rosenthal,
executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Services. "People with disabilities have been so fearful about going
to work and making too much money."
recently as March, advocates were accusing the state Health Department
of purposely delaying the program to save the state money at a time when
it is facing an $11.5 billion budget deficit. State officials denied that
charge, blaming the hold-up on computer problems. The buy-in program is
expected to cost the state $6 million in the 2003-04 fiscal year.
confident that this will roll out in July," said Health Department
spokesman Robert Kenny.
of jobs, services at Hutchings contradicts state policy - Letter to
the Editor. By Nicholas J. Pirro
Syracuse Newspapers, March 29, 2003
Balancing a budget is always a difficult process as one attempts to apportion
resources for necessary services. A state budget proposal that would close
Hutchings Psychiatric Center is an unfortunate one that state legislators
need to address.
proposed executive budget for the state Office of Mental Health includes
a proposed plan to address a budget gap through closing and consolidation
of three state psychiatric centers in July, including the relocation of
inpatient beds for children and adults from Syracuse to Utica and the
transfer of all other services currently provided by Hutchings to Mohawk
Valley Psychiatric Center. The result will be the complete closure of
the past 25 years, Hutchings has provided approximately 40 percent of
the public mental health services in Onondaga County. Included are inpatient
services for children and adults, clinic and day treatment programs, a
social clubhouse program, community residences and a sheltered workshop.
Ninety percent of the people served live in Onondaga County. It is a major
part of our service system, and because of its downtown location, it is
very much a community-based organization.
potential adverse economic impact is significant. Precise data has not
been made available. However, the estimated number of jobs to be eliminated
or moved to Utica is 350, with a payroll of $8 million. Over time, fewer
and fewer employees of Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center will live in Onondaga
County. This comes at a time when our community is also losing private-sector
have been told a 10-week hospital stay in Utica should not be a hardship
on families, that their family members "could not be forgotten"
in that time frame; that it is unreasonable for every urban community
to have specialty services such as cancer centers, heart specialists and
long-term psychiatric inpatient care. We disagree. There is a major impact
and hardship to families and service providers traveling 60 miles or more
to Utica to visit those in the hospital and participate in discharge planning.
I am particularly troubled by the impact on children, their families and
the full range of child welfare and education services that will now have
to travel to Utica.
are attracted to Syracuse because of our excellent access to specialty
health care. We are known nationally for our cardiac surgery and cancer
treatment, and have a first-class regional trauma center. Accessibility
to mental health care should be no different.
to Hutchings is frequently provided by law enforcement agencies or by
ambulance. Traveling to Utica will be a substantial burden and will come
at a high cost. Relocation of inpatient services to Utica is a step backwards
and contradicts state policy of ready access.
impact is more subtle but no less important. During the past 15 years
state government policy and budgetary goals have supported community-based
services, including ready access to services, coordination of care, strong
local authority and more recently, a single point of entry and accountability.
Our current system already is fragmented and confusing to recipients and
providers. Moving 40 percent of our system is a step in the wrong direction.
the chief executive of a $700.8-million corporation, I can understand
and accept the need to reduce costs and reallocate funding. This proposed
plan may look better to some from a distance.
mental hygiene law strongly supports local planning as a foundation for
the development of public mental health services. The current plan is
not consistent with either the letter or intent of the current statute.
New York must keep Hutchings open!
J. Pirro is Onondaga County executive.
center injunction still alive. By Matt Smith
Times Herald-Record, April 3, 2003
Albany – A court injunction blocking the Pataki administration from
shutting down Middletown Psychiatric Center will stay in place for another
A court hearing was scheduled yesterday to decide whether the state can
take further closure actions against the Middletown facility, which serves
patients in Orange and Sullivan counties.
But the state was given until today to file arguments that might persuade
state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Teresi to overturn an injunction handed
down on March 19.
The state Public Employees Federation, which sued to stop closure actions
at the hospital, will have until Tuesday to make its case for a permanent
state lawmakers have vowed their help to keep the center open.
have support from both houses to keep Middletown running," Neila
Cardus, a local PEF coordinator, said yesterday. "My hope is, when
the budget is passed, Middletown Psychiatric Center will still exist."
Civil Service Employees Association – the state's largest union
– will also file a motion to keep the injunction in place.
said these unions and another representing security guards are working
together to fight the center's closure. The closure would put dozens of
employees out of work and move 200 workers and more than 100 patients
to Rockland Psychiatric Center, more than an hour's drive from Middletown.
part of his plan to close the state's $12 billion budget shortfall, Gov.
George Pataki proposed closing the Middletown hospital and two other state-run
psychiatric centers in Syracuse and Elmira on July 1. It is the second
time in three years the facility has been slated to close, according to
unions, however, maintain Pataki violated state law by not giving communities
a required year's notice before eliminating hospital services. Should
Teresi grant a permanent injunction, the psychiatric centers would only
be protected from closure until Jan. 29 – a date six months from
Pataki's initial target.
Monday, local state lawmakers are scheduled to gather near Tuckerman Hall
at the psychiatric center's campus to support keeping it open. A press
conference and a rally by workers is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. The
public is invited.
health insurance parity cost-effective - Letter to the Editor.
Schenectady Daily Gazette, April 4, 2003
March 24 editorial about mental health insurance parity couldn't be more
Nearly 30 states have passed similar laws requiring health insurance carriers
to provide the same level of coverage for mental illnesses as they do
for any other physical illness. There has been no evidence to support
your editorial's specious claim that health care costs will rise and lead
to an increase in the uninsured.
addition to the mounting real-life evidence, several studies have been
done on the impact of removing higher co-payments and deductibles (i.e.
higher out-of-pocket expenses for consumers). These studies find that
requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for mental illness in
the same manner they do for other physical illnesses has little to no
impact on overall health insurance costs. Some studies show that increased
access to mental health care actually reduces overall health care costs.
with children who have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness, like
the O'Clairs, bear the greatest burden of insurance discrimination. Around
5 percent of children in this country are believed to have a serious mental
illness, and for them, prompt and regular access to treatment is essential
for their care and, hopefully, cure.
even lower percentage of these children sometimes require lengthy hospitalizations.
Spread over insured populations, the cost of this care is minimal but
the cost borne by individual families is enormous. Far too many families
have had similar experiences to the O'Clairs and had insurance coverage
for their child end at precisely the moment the child most needs treatment.
Without other resources, families are forced to give up custody of their
child in order to obtain Medicaid funding to support their child's care.
New York passes legislation requiring insurance companies to provide the
same level of coverage for mental illnesses as for physical illness, families
will continue to be faced with this despicable choice.
next time, we remain,
Working to ensure available and accessible mental health services for
all New Yorkers