Timothy's Law - for Parity-based Mental Health & Chemical Dependency insurance coverage
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Timothy’s Law Timeline

In late 2002, after many years of advocating for equal insurance coverage for mental health and addiction treatment services, supporters of parity legislation began laying the groundwork for future advocacy efforts in this area. A family who had lost their son to suicide just a year before became interested in advocating for parity, and they agreed to lend their late son’s name, Timothy, to the cause.

Now commonly known as Timothy’s Law, the effort to stamp out discrimination in health insurance policies against individuals with mental health and addiction treatment needs has taken on a life of its own. The O’Clair family have selflessly shared the heartbreaking story of how they lost their 12 year-old son to suicide due to limits on insurance coverage for mental health treatment. The O’Clairs’ courageous efforts, and the efforts of advocates throughout the state, has helped make Timothy’s Law a priority here in New York.

This is a timeline of the events surrounding Timothy’s Law since 2003.

January 2003

30 groups, along with the O’Clairs, come together to rename the Fair Insurance Treatment (FIT) campaign the Timothy’s Law Campaign (TLC)

 

February 2003

 

O’Clair family is one of three families featured in New York Times article regarding custody relinquishment

Hundreds come to Albany for legislative days held by organizations that comprise TLC

One of the groups meeting for Lobby Day

 

Hundreds of letters and e-mails are sent by supporters of Timothy’s Law asking legislators to join in sponsorship of Timothy’s Law

March 2003

Jessica Lynch, then-Miss New York City (later to be named Miss New York State) joins TLC, sharing her personal struggle to access mental health services as a teenager

Jessica Lynch posing with the O'Clairs the night she is crowned Miss New York State for 2003

 

O’Clairs meet with Legislators in Albany to ask for passage of Timothy’s Law
Letters to the editors of newspapers published in support of Timothy’s Law

 

 

O’Clairs mark second anniversary of Timothy’s suicide on March 16th

April 2003

Assemblyman Paul Tonko, joined by 50 fellow members of the Assembly, introduces Timothy’s Law in NYS Assembly (A.8301)

 

May 2003

 

O’Clairs and Jessica Lynch do whirlwind media tour of Upstate New York, getting coverage in print, on the radio and television in Binghamton, Syracuse and Rochester
Senator Tom Libous, joined by 32 fellow Senators, introduces Timothy’s Law in NYS Senate (S.5329)

 

 

Thousands of phone calls made to thank NYS legislators for joining in sponsorship of Timothy’s Law

 

Tom O’Clair appears on The O’Reilly Factor

 

June 2003

 

O’Clairs walk at Mental Health Walk hosted by Long Island Recovery Advocates
NYS Assembly passes Timothy’s Law 131 - 11 on June 4th; bill is sent to Senate

 

 

O’Clairs appear on NBC’s Today show June 10th

Thousands of calls made to NYS Senators urging passage of Timothy’s Law

 

 

Timothy’s Law supporters reportedly shut down Senate Majority Leader’s phone lines on the last day of legislative session, calling for passage of Timothy’s Law
O’Clairs and Jessica Lynch march with thousands in support of Timothy’s Law on Long Island

 

July 2003

 

Letters to the editor campaign publicly urges Senate to pass Timothy’s Law
$1.26 Campaign begins. Timothy’s Law supporters send Senate Majority Leader $1.26 to show their willingness to pay for Timothy’s Law and urge passage

 

August 2003

 

Rally held by Central New York Timothy’s Law supporter Debra Graham, who lost her son to suicide earlier in 2003
Timothy’s Law billboards go up in Rochester, Albany, Syracuse, and Binghamton. Billboard in support of Timothy's Law reading 'No one should die because of insurance restrictions' and advertising Sept. 16, 2003 rally

Plane pulls banner reading “Senators Pass Timothy’s Law,” over Saratoga Racetrack

Timothy’s Law supporters hire pilot to fly banner reading, “Senators Pass Timothy’s Law,” over Saratoga Racetrack the day of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee’s fundraiser

September 2003

NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery holds public hearing in Albany on Timothy’s Law;

 

Tom O'Clair on the steps of the NYS Capitol with Timothy's bicycle

Timothy’s Law Bike Ride and Rally at NYS Capital urges NYS Senate to pass Timothy’s Law while in Albany on September 16th (click here for pictures and coverage of this rally)

“Maybe Bruno and some other senators should have been at the rally. Maybe they should have seen Timothy's father, Tom, sitting next to Timothy's bike, the bike he gave his son on his 12th birthday, with the gothic, intimidating state Capitol looming in the background.” Troy Record Editorial, September 18, 2003

October 2003

Ongoing Letters to the Editor, $1.26, and e-mails, letters and phone calls to Senators, urging passage of Timothy’s Law

 

November 2003

 

Hundreds attend Western New York Rally to hear O’Clairs speak about Timothy’s Law
New York City Councilmember David Weprin introduces resolution calling upon the NYS Senate to pass Timothy’s Law NYC Mayor Bloomberg and Councilmember Weprin introduce resolution with Tom O'Clair looking on
Mayor Bloomberg, left, Councilmember Weprin, center, with Tom O'Clair in background

 

Timothy’s Law supporters begin campaign of dropping literature in neighborhoods, encouraging calls be made to Senators in support of Timothy’s Law

December 2003

Second rally held in Central New York by Debra Graham

 

January 2004

 

Timothy’s Law is returned to the Assembly for reconsideration after not passing Senate
Timothy’s Law supporters hold press conference welcoming legislators back to Albany and calling for passage of Timothy’s Law in 2004

 

February 2004

 

Timothy’s Law Campaign expands list of supporting organizations to over 200
Tom O’Clair completes whirlwind media tour of Hudson Valley, meeting with newspapers and television stations throughout the region

 

 

3000 petitions in support of Timothy’s Law are delivered to Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno using Timothy O’Clair’s red Radio Flyer wagon

March 2004

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver vows to Timothy’s Law supporters to do “whatever it takes” to enact Timothy’s Law

 

 

(A.8301) Timothy’s Law passes Assembly 143-10; bill sent to Senate
Timothy’s Law supporters hold rally at NYS Capitol on March 16th, the 3rd anniversary of Timothy’s suicide, calling for passage of Timothy’s Law Tom O'Clair addresses rally from the steps of the NYS Capitol

May 2004

 

O’Clairs and Timothy’s Law supporters hold all-night candlelight vigil outside the NYS Capitol on May 5th, Timothy’s birthday, calling for passage of Timothy’s Law
Senate introduces new parity bill (S.7296), which exempts people with chemical dependency needs, exempts anyone working for an employer with 50 or fewer employees, and limits list of covered diagnoses to 10. The O’Clair family deems the new Senate bill too weak to be bear Timothy’s name, calling it, “a far cry from Timothy’s Law.” Tom O'Clair stands outside of the NYS Senate lobby with Timothy's bicycle
Tom O'Clair stands outside of the NYS Senate lobby with Timothy's bicycle

 

Timothy’s Law supporters decry Senator Bruno’s letter to constituents notifying them that the Senate has introduced its own version of Timothy’s Law

June 2004

Timothy’s Law supporters hold countdown to mark the number of days left in the legislative session to pass Timothy’s Law

 

 

Timothy’s Law supporters hold vigil outside Senate Chamber during last week of the legislative session, urging passage of Timothy’s Law
Tom O’Clair meets with Senate Leadership, asking for passage of Timothy’s Law

 

 

Senate and Assembly meet to negotiate differences between Timothy’s Law and Senate bill
Assembly offers compromise version of Timothy’s Law that would provide a tax exemption for small businesses to offset any potential premium increases due to Timothy’s Law

 

 

Senate rejects Assembly compromise version of Timothy’s Law, brings S.7296 to Senate floor, votes down an amendment to make it Timothy’s Law, and passes their own bill
Assembly passes compromise version of Timothy’s Law (A.11694) 148-7

 

August 2004

 

Timothy’s Law supporters continue vigil outside Senate Chamber with Legislature’s return to Albany to complete NYS budget

September 2004

Preparations for November Timothy’s Law walk and rally begin

 

 

Timothy’s Law supporters continue vigil outside Senate Chamber with Senate’s return

October 2004

Preparations for November Timothy’s Law walk and rally continue

 

Susan Wheeler, founder of Small Businesses for Timothy's Law Small Businesses for Timothy’s Law is formed by Susan Wheeler, a Binghamton business owner who supports Timothy’s Law based on the her belief that Timothy’s Law is good for business

November 2004

Over a period of 6 days, Alexandra Zimmerman walks from Warwick, NY (Orange County) to Albany (120 miles) in memory of her classmate Robin Desrats lost to suicide and in support of Timothy’s Law Alexandra Zimmerman standing in front of van with 'Walk for Timothy's Law in Memory of Robin Desrats. Warwick to Albany' painted on window
Assemblymember Paul Tonko addresses rally from NYS Capitol steps Timothy’s Law supporters hold rally at NYS Capitol as the Senate returns to Albany, calling for passage of Timothy’s Law
Timothy’s Law supporters continue vigil outside Senate Chamber with Senate’s return

 

December 2004

 

Timothy’s Law supporters highlight changes in HMO coverage, including disproportionate increases in co-payments for mental health and chemical dependency services coverage during time of open enrollment as evidence of need for Timothy’s Law
Efforts to build Small Businesses for Timothy’s Law continued

 

 

Timothy’s Law supporters continue vigil outside Senate Chamber with legislature’s return

April 2005

Tom O’Clair takes part in a panel discussion on Children's Mental Health: Navigating the System as part of the Carter Center's Conversations at the Carter Center series.