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Tom O'Clair invites you to join him as he
keeps vigil at the NYS Capitol this week.
(December 18 - 22)
Everyone is invited to join Tom O’Clair at the Capitol this
week to demonstrate the strong support for Timothy’s Law and
urge Governor Pataki to sign the bill into law.
Monday - Thursday, 3:30 - 7:00 PM
Friday, 3:30 - 6:00 PM
Second Floor of the NYS Capitol in Albany
(outside the Governor's reception room)
Timothy's Law - Pataki must sign bill that can ensure medical coverage
of mental disorders.
Elmira Star-Gazette, Editorial, December 17,
one-day, special legislative session was a bust. With one important
a civil confinement bill died of neglect, another important bill
lived and now sits on Gov. George Pataki's desk awaiting his signature.
There's every reason for the governor to sign off on the bill, the
so-called Timothy's Law.
Assembly approved the bill last Wednesday in what was the only show
of productivity to come out of the legislative meeting. It wasn't
what Pataki wanted when he called legislators back to Albany, yet
the measure was an important byproduct of an otherwise unimpressive
governor had sought a new civil confinement law to keep sex offenders
in state mental facilities for further treatment after their prison
sentences had expired. He had intense interest in the bill because
the state's highest court had overturned his executive order to
confine a number of sex offenders after their sentences were up.
But the governor lost that round when the Assembly and Senate could
not reach a compromise on civil confinement.
must not let that disappointment sink Timothy's Law. Named for Timothy
O'Clair, a 12-year-old Schenectady child who killed himself in 2001,
the law would require insurance companies to cover inpatient and
outpatient treatment for various mental illnesses not currently
covered, including eating disorders.
extra cost, estimated to be from 3 percent to as much as 10 percent,
would be passed on to employers and their workers, The Associated
Press has reported. The state, however, would pick up the extra
expense for small companies of 50 employees or fewer.
the governor has concerns about the controversy that surrounded
the law when it was introduced, he need now only look at the votes
-- 55-0 in the Senate during a special session in September and
139-0 in the Assembly last week -- to be assured that legislators
believe in this bill.
if he has any residual ire at the Assembly for blocking the civil
confinement bill, he also should set that aside. Timothy's Law offers
too much good for those with mental disorders to become a victim
he leaves office this year, the governor should act with compassion
and sign this bill for the good of the state.
Sooner Law Takes Effect, the Better
Troy Record, Editorial, December 16, 2006
Legislature accomplished at least one worthwhile thing in its special
session this week: the Assembly unanimously passed "Timothy's
Law," which would expand the availability of coverage for the
treatment of mental illness.
Senate passed the bill earlier this fall. Now it's up to Gov. Pataki
to sign the bill into law.
lawmaker Paul Tonko was the main sponsor of the Assembly bill; the
boy for whom it is named lived in his district in Rotterdam.
story is heartbreaking, but it served to put a name and face to
a problem that only legislation could address.
O'Clair's parents first sought mental health treatment for their
young son, quickly using up their insurance policy's allotted visits
and then paying out of pocket to the extent they could afford. "Eventually,"
explains a Web site set up to promote the law, "the O'Clairs
had to relinquish custody of Timothy to gain access to hospitalization."
March 2001, the boy committed suicide at age 12.
Timothy had diabetes or cancer, our health insurance would have
provided unlimited coverage," his parents wrote. "We are
confident that had Timothy received the services he needed, he would
be here with us now."
have been trying to get Timothy's Law passed for four years.
law addresses coverage for both adults and children, and it brings
New York in line with 35 other states.
most important part of the legislation is that it brings co-pays
for mental health services down to the same rate as other medical
services, rather than $50 or more per visit. It also requires health
insurance policies sold in New York to provide at least 30 inpatient
days and 20 outpatient visits for mental health treatment, according
to the organization Families Together in New York State.
Law is a trial of sorts, because it expired three years from its
enactment. The law requires that the state Insurance Department
conduct a cost analysis of the legislation, so that financial ramifications
can be reviewed and taken into account before its expiration.
now, the sooner it takes effect, the better.
more information, go to the Timothy's Law Campaign at www.timothyslaw.org
or call 432-0333.
Timothy's Law Before Governor Pataki
New York Public Radio, December 15, 2006
By Karen DeWitt
NEW YORK (2006-12-15) During the special session this week, the
state Assembly approved Timothy's Law. It requires that insurance
companies cover mental illnesses as comprehensively as they treat
physical ailments. It only needs Governor Pataki's signature to
O'Clair committed suicide just before his 13th birthday, after a
long struggle with mental illness. Timothy's father, Tom O'Clair,
has fought tirelessly ever since for a law to mandate equal insurance
coverage for mental health. O'Clair said he was very excited that
the bill had finally passed both houses of the legislature.
tremendous," O'Clair said. "It's really a very big relief."
measure now goes to Governor Pataki, who must decide in his final
days in office whether to veto it or sign it. O'Clair believes the
governor has every reason to approve the bill, based on his track
record on providing better health insurance coverage to children.
O'Clair points out that Pataki has expanded Medicaid programs for
the working poor known as Child Health Plus and Healthy New York.
group representing small businesses is urging Pataki to reject the
measure. Chris Koetzle, with Support Services Alliance, says offering
the coverage would be too expensive for many small firms.
are going to ask him to veto it, on the basis that it drives up
the cost of health insurance for small businesses," he said.
measure does provide for the state to subsidize businesses with
50 or fewer employees, to help them pay for the extra insurance
coverage, but Koetzle says the methodology for figuring out those
costs is murky.
Pataki seemed to be considering both sides of the issue. The Governor
said offering increased mental health coverage was a positive thing,
but he said he wanted to do further analysis of what the costs would
be, and whether it might actually lead to more uninsured.
have to weigh those two," Pataki said.
will be stepping down as Governor December 31. He has until then
Put No Pedophiles in Mental Hospitals
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, OP-ED, December
By Judith Watt
Rochester, (the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental
Illness) is one of several organizations that adamantly believe
violent sexual predators without serious mental illness do not belong
in our state's hospitals for psychiatric treatment.
do these individuals — fewer than 7 percent — have valid
psychiatric diagnoses such as clinical depression, schizophrenia
or bipolar disorder.
to Dr. Herbert Sacks, past president of the American Psychiatric
Association: "The civil commitment of sexual predators to a
mental hospital for purposes of social control is an abuse of the
mental health care system. It saddles already under-funded public
mental hospitals with a potential lifetime warehousing of people
whom the state says do not have mental illness, only a 'mental abnormality.'"
violent sexual predators are to be civilly committed, it should
be done in another type of facility located on the grounds of correctional
facilities where appropriate research, supervision, structure and
assessment could be provided by distinct and separate funding, as
has been done successfully in Florida and other states.
saddle the New York State Office of Mental Health with this responsibility
would be wrong. Hospitals are for care, treatment and recovery,
not warehousing and confinement of sexually violent predators.
addition, we have grave concerns about other aspects of this misguided
policy, and they include resources, safety and stigma.
dollar spent to house a sexual predator in state psychiatric hospitals
is a dollar drained from the state mental health budget for appropriate
treatment of persons with serious mental illness. Every bed filled
by a sexual predator is a bed that is, in effect, closed to a person
with a serious mental illness in need of treatment.
is estimated that it would cost $27 million next year to house sexual
predators in New York State. We estimate that such a sum would pay
for 135 such predators. Gov. George Pataki has said there are 5,000
predators in the pipeline for release. The state Office of Mental
Health should not be saddled with this inappropriate responsibility,
nor should already scarce dollars and beds be taken away from the
mentally ill for this unrelated purpose.
persons struggling to recover from serious mental illnesses in the
state's hospitals, such as Rochester Psychiatric Center, are among
our most vulnerable citizens. Data show that persons with mental
illness are 12 times more likely than the general public to be the
victims of crimes and violence. Surely locking sexually violent
predators up with them, even in the short-term, is not any way to
protect vulnerable patients or the people who care for them.
addition, if predators are "shipped off to mental hospitals,"
it will confirm and increase the stigma that surrounds brain illnesses.
Longstanding efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental
illness will be turned back decades by equating sexually violent
predators with those who have a serious brain illness. It should
not be the answer for our responsible government leaders.
is president, NAMI Rochester board of directors.