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In 1998 Timothy was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital after refusing to attend school and throwing rags into the furnace at his home.6 Timothy returned home after his father’s insurance company refused to continue to pay for hospitalization.7 The O’Clairs knew that Timothy’s outpatient treatment was beneficial, but it was becoming exponentially too expensive for them to continue to pay without additional help or coverage from his father’s health insurance benefit
reluctantly placed Timothy in foster care.9
with Timothy, the In New York State
O’Clairs a child in
foster care the mental
is automatically health services
eligible for Medicaid, which would pay for Mr. O’Clair’s insurance carrier denied. 10
placed in of 2001,
a psychiatric residency where he when, after showing considerable
three short weeks before his behavior again turned violent.12 16, 2001, Timothy hanged himself in his bedroom closet. 13
There is a great possibility that, had Joe O’Clair’s insurance policy provided equal insurance benefits for both physical and mental illnesses and disabilities, Timothy may have received the healthcare services that his sickness so desperately required.14 Even after this devastating event, the O’Clairs had to continue to pay for the healthcare treatment bills they incurred throughout Timothy’s under-insured illness. 15
Timothy’s story is not an uncommon one. There have been thousands of parents throughout New York State forced to relinquish custody of their children with mental illnesses in order for those children to receive the mental health services they needed.16 As will be discussed in greater detail in the following sections, New York State and federal legislation fell short of protecting children like Timothy from discriminatory insurance coverage practices. With the passage of Timothy’s Law, effective January 1, 2007, New York has tried to
psychologist treatment. Id.
6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16 .
I Id. Id. See id. Id. Id. Id. Id. Id. Id. Id. d .