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NY budget requires insurers to pay rates as high as Medicaid

  • / Updated:
  • Edwin Viera 

New York’s 2025 budget improves access to mental-health services.

Budget legislation stipulates commercial insurers have to pay rates similar to Medicaid for in- and-out-of-network behavioral health services.

While many New York adults can access care, younger people can’t because of insurance coverage.

Matthew Shapiro – senior director of government affairs for the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York State – said people are glad this broadens access to often limited mental health services.

“We hear from people all the time that they can’t access care, they can’t find a psychiatrist, they can’t find a social worker, they can’t find someone who’ll prescribe medication,” said Shapiro. “It can be very, very difficult, especially in parts of Upstate New York where these services just aren’t readily available.”

Some insurance companies pushed back, saying it would raise customers’ rates. Shapiro noted that this will hopefully resolve long-standing issues in obtaining mental-health care.

A state Attorney General’s office report finds 86% of the listed, in-network mental-health providers were either unreachable, not in-network, or not accepting new patients.

The budget allocates millions of dollars to other programs that establish new inpatient psychiatric beds statewide, and increase mental health support for first responders.

But, Shapiro noted that other insurance companies’ barriers prevent New Yorkers from getting the best mental-health care they can.

“It’s so important those people get the medications their doctor believes are best for them, and their individual set of symptoms as quickly as possible,” said Shapiro. “So, eliminating things like fail-first procedures and what they call step-up procedures.”

He added that these policies can significantly set back a person’s recovery.

A 2024 survey finds 1 in 5 adults required to fail first had to visit the emergency room or be admitted to a hospital as a result of the policy.