Mayor says NYC will treat mentally ill, even if they refuse treatment
By John Kuntz
27 November 2014
The New York State Senate unanimously passed the Mental Health Services, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Protection Act on Tuesday, November 26, with the backing of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The bill extends to New York City, a move that has been demanded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been pressing state lawmakers for federal approval of the program since the summer, when he first revealed to his State Senate constituents that he had a condition that puts him at risk of suffering a “psychotic break.”
The mayor has said publicly that he wants the federal government to force doctors and hospitals to provide treatment to his condition, which can be fatal and has been linked to the deaths of several people over the last five decades. “We are calling on you,” a statement was published in the New York Times on Monday. “We need your help. We need your help.”
The bill was co-authored by Sheldon Silver, a Democratic Assemblyman from the 16th District, the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Governor Andrew Cuomo, the latter of whom has said: “It’s important that we follow the federal law as carefully and as closely as we can.”
The bill was first introduced in the assembly in May and was moved to the senate for final legislative review. On the one hand, the bill does not actually extend funding to New York City, but gives the city a one-year extension of Medicaid funding. The city’s Medicaid program provides health insurance to a broad cross section of the population, from the very poor to the very rich, and is the largest individual health insurance program in the country.
On the other hand, it does provide the city with a new method of funding treatment, which requires the city to provide treatment even if the mentally ill person refuses it.
The bill provides a new funding mechanism that makes provision for the creation of a commission with power to extend Medicaid funding in the event that the mentally ill person refuses treatment.
“Mental illnesses are real and in many cases deadly,” said Silver. “