03 Apr Letter: Mental illness patients discriminated against
Times Union, March 22, 2018, Letter from Andrew Malekoff
Although our children’s safety is paramount (“School safety debate evokes Albany deja vu,” March 7), in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, we must understand that it is incredibly rare for people living with mentally illness to be violent. In fact, they are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.
Nevertheless, we do need to have a discussion about mental illness at a time like this. That discussion, however, needs to be about how the health insurance industry and the elected officials who depend on their donations are failing miserably at having adequate networks of providers on their lists who take insurance.
Why is this? Health insurers pay substandard rates of reimbursement; consequently, fewer and fewer providers will accept insurance.
Health insurers are discriminating against people living with mental illness and addiction. This is a violation of civil rights and federal parity law, which government regulators then fail to enforce, as is their statutory responsibility.
In New York, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) is charged with enforcement. I urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize, and DFS Commissioner Mary Vullo to implement a full-scale investigation into network adequacy during this, the 10-year anniversary of the bipartisan Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.
Executive director and CEO of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights