NEW YORK (WETM) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced major changes to the Empire State’s mental healthcare services ahead of her 2023 State of the State Address. These include expanding insurance coverage, adding more psychiatric beds, and expanding mental health services in schools.

Hochul’s announcement said this plan will amount to $1 billion in investment over time. “When it comes to protecting New Yorkers’ well-being, strengthening our mental health care system is essential and long overdue,” she said. “We have underinvested in mental health care for so long, and allowed the situation to become so dire, that it has become a public safety crisis, as well.”

Some of the changes in Hochul’s plan include:

  • Increasing the capacity of psychiatric beds by 1,000 and fining hospitals that don’t comply with the number of beds in their operating certificate $2,000/day. Hochul said hospitals were previously allowed to take some psychiatric beds offline during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Creating 3,500 housing units for people with mental illness.
  • Expanding insurance coverage for mental health services for both adults and children, as well as setting standards for geographic availability.
  • Expanding mental health services in schools “by increasing Medicaid payment rates” for clinics and services. Hochul’s plan also said insurance providers would be required to pay for school-based services “at a level equal to the higher paying Medicaid rate.”
  • Expanding outpatient services and improving admission planning for mental health services.