New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new measures to address a mental health crisis among frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state is partnering with Crisis Text Line, a non-profit providing text message-based mental health support, and the Kate Spade New York Foundation, which provides funding to organizations advocating for mental wellness. Frontline health care workers can now text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 for 24/7 emotional support services.
Governor Cuomo also announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) will waive cost-sharing such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance, for mental health services accessed through state-regulated insurance plans for frontline essential workers who access in-network mental health providers. State-regulated insurance plans include Medicaid, the Essential Plan, and individual and small-business insurance plans (but not large employer plans that self-insure).
DFS also issued an emergency regulation to prevent insurers from making frontline essential workers pay cost-sharing expenses for in-network telehealth and in-person mental health services which are now being provided remotely.
To qualify for this cost-sharing waiver for telehealth and mental health services, frontline essential workers must be eligible to be tested at a State-run drive-through or walk-in COVID-19 testing site. NY State’s COVID-19 Testing page clarifies that people “employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working” are eligible for such testing. DFS has also issued a list of workers who qualify as essential such as health care workers, first responders, and delivery workers among others.