ACTION ALERT: Contact Governor Cuomo TODAY and urge the Governor to sign the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act into Law!

Contact Governor Cuomo  TODAY and urge the Governor to sign the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act into Law!

Letters and emails are needed to sign the NYS S.1156-C/A.3694-C into Law!

As previously reported, thanks in large part to NASW-NYS and more than twenty other statewide organizations lending support, the Senate and Assembly passed the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act (S.1156-C/A.3694-C) in the final days of the Legislative Session.

The legislation directs the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services to collect certain key data and matrixes from insurers and health plans in order to scrutinize and analyze if they are in compliance with the federal and state mental health and substance use (MH/SUD) disorder parity laws, culminating in the publication of annual parity compliance report in the annual “Consumer Guide to Health Insurers.”

While passing the bill was a huge victory, OUR WORK IS NOT DONE! Beginning today, we ask that our members write in support of the legislation to the Governor as we work to demonstrate the strong support for this legislation. The bill could be sent to the Governor any day now.

As such, it is imperative you make your voice heard and contact Governor Cuomo to express strong support for the legislation and urge him to sign the bill into law! 

Your voice is critical to ensure full implementation of mental health and substance use disorder parity laws and reduce patterns of disparity between coverage criteria imposed on MH/SUD care and treatment as compared to other covered services. 

 

Write and email Governor Cuomo and urge him to sign the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act (S.1156-C/A.3694-C) into law!

(Click Here Now)

 

Action Steps Needed

 

or visiting the following link: https://cqrcengage.com/mssny/app/write-a-letter?1&engagementId=483333 

  • Visit Governor Cuomo’s Official Contact Page by clicking here.

 

Sample Email/Letter: 

Download Sample Email/Letter (Word Doc)

Dear Governor Cuomo,

I am writing to urge you to sign the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Report Act (S.1156-C/A.3694-C) into law, which received strong, bi-partisan support from the Legislature with a vote 60-0 vote in the Senate and 137-1 in the Assembly!

The legislation directs the Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services to collect certain key data points and elements from insurers and health plans in order to scrutinize and analyze if they are in compliance with the federal (The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008) and state (Chapter 748 of the . laws of 2006 – “Timothy’s Law”) mental health and substance use (MH/SUD) disorder parity laws. The information collected would be analyzed and used for the preparation of a parity compliance report in the annual “Consumer Guide to Health Insurers” issued by Department of Financial Services.

As a [psychiatrist; psychologist; social worker; family advocate; peer] caring and treating patients on a daily basis, I can personally attest to the need for this type of annual disclosure from insurers and health plans, recognizing that although federal and state parity laws have been on the books for over a decade, there still exists industry patterns of disparity between coverage criteria imposed on MH/SUD care and treatment as compared to other covered services. This legislation will enable a comparison between requirements for accessing benefits that are applied to MH/SUD as compared with those applied to medical/surgical benefits.

Among the areas where disparity continues to be cited are:  (a) rates of utilization review as well as rate of approval and denial for care and treatment;  (b) the numbers of prior or concurrent authorization requests along with the number of denials for such requests; (c) medical necessity criteria used by insurers and health plans to make determinations with respect to prior authorization, continuing care or discharge; (d) percentage of claims paid for in-network and out-of-network MH/SUD care and treatment; and, (e) network adequacy and provider networks. The consequences of non-compliance with the MH/SUD parity laws can be devastating at a time when the State is confronting rising incidences of mental health and substance use disorders as well as suicides.

In your tenure as Governor and public office, you have taken a strong stance and recognized the importance of compliance with the federal and state MH/SUD parity laws as a mechanism for maintaining and enhancing access to care. We hope you will affirm your continued support of the parity laws by enacting this legislation, which will allow New York to be among the first in the nation to require such specific disclosures. The lives of New Yorkers depend on compliance and enforcement of the MH/SUD parity laws!

Sincerely,

[Full Name, Credentials]

[City], NY

 

Why is this legislation so important and needed?

 

This legislation is important because



  • The current enforcement & compliance system is complaint driven — putting the onus on consumers!

  • This legislation is extremely important as we know non-compliance persists, which unnecessarily delays and/or denies access to care for MH/SUD.

  • The eight settlements/agreements the New York Attorney General reached with several major insurers, health plans, and managers of behavioral health benefits found significant acts of non-compliance, including:

    • applying more stringent and frequent utilization review for MH/SUD as compared to medical/surgical benefits;

    • denying care and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders at higher rates;

    • imposing a higher/specialist copayment rate for outpatient mental health and substance use disorder care than for outpatient/medical surgical care; and

    • using criteria and models inconsistent with the laws and regulations of the State.



  • Now more than ever, this legislation is needed as New York faces an increasing number of suicides and opioids deaths.

    • Recent CDC data shows a 28.8% increase in suicide in New York State between 1999 to 2016. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death with the number of suicide (nationally) surpassing the number of deaths by automobile accidents, homicides, and breast cancer. According to a recent OMH report and plan on suicide prevention, “1,700 New Yorkers died by suicide in 2014. Only four states in the country had a higher number.”

    • Nearly 3,600 opioid deaths occurred in 2016 (a 135% increase between 2013-2016).



  • Compliance with the parity laws is critical to assuring access to care and treatment.

  • Under this legislation, insurers and health plans would have to submit data on: network adequacy; rates of utilization review; rates of adverse determinations; percentage of claims paid for in-network and out-of-network MH/SUD care and treatment; percentage of providers who remained in network; network adequacy; and any other data or metric the Superintendent deems necessary to evaluate compliance with the MH/SUD parity laws.