Relates to the release of mental hygiene records pertaining to allegations and investigations of abuse or mistreatment.
Ayes (60): Adams, Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Espaillat, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Fuschillo, Gallivan, Gianaris, Gipson, Golden, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Hoylman, Kennedy, Klein, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, Montgomery, Nozzolio, O'Brien, O'Mara, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Sampson, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousin, Tkaczyk, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Excused (3): Krueger, Libous, Sanders
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to the further dissemination of records pertaining to allegations and investigations of abuse and mistreatment at a facility to certain persons
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: Amends Chapter 24 of the Laws of 2007 (Jonathan's Law) and clarifies the legislative intent of certain provisions.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Subdivision (b) of section 33.25 of the mental hygiene law, as added by chapter 24 of the laws of 2007, is amended to strike certain language regarding the further dissemination of records by the recipient.
JUSTIFICATION: Chapter 24 of the Laws of 2007 (Jonathan's Law) mandated the timely notification and the release of reports and records to qualified family members with regard to incidents of abuse of an individual under the care of these facilities.
The law contained language that prohibits the "further dissemination" of records obtained by parents or guardians with regard to abuse of individuals with developmental disabilities who reside in facilities licensed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).
Since Jonathan's Law was enacted, the language prohibiting the further dissemination of these records has often been interpreted inconsistently, and is at odds with the legislative intent of the original chapter. For example, when family members request and receive reports of abuse of their loved ones, the documents are provided with a letter from the agency stating the information is "highly confidential" and the reports themselves are stamped in large bold letters "CONFIDENTIAL - DO NOT DISCLOSE". It remains unclear whether these records can be shared, for instance, with an attorney representing the family, or even law enforcement agencies, where a crime has clearly been committed.
Given the recent series of New York Times articles exposing allegations of widespread abuse and the unacceptable lack of criminal reporting of these incidents by those charged under law to do so, it is imperative that we allow the qualified recipients of these reports of abuse to utilize them in a manner that will best protect the individual and provide for swift justice of crimes against this vulnerable population.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2012 A9037 Passed Assembly/S6620 Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediate
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3802 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 15, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. CARLUCCI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Mental Health and Develop- mental Disabilities AN ACT to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to the further dissemination of records pertaining to allegations and investigations of abuse and mistreatment at a facility to certain persons THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision (b) of section 33.25 of the mental hygiene law, as added by chapter 24 of the laws of 2007, is amended and two new subdivisions (c) and (d) are added to read as follows: (b) Records and reports released in accordance with this section shall be released pursuant to subdivision (b) of section 33.23 of this article and shall not be further disseminated by the recipient, PROVIDED THAT A RECIPIENT MAY SHARE ANY RECORDS AND REPORTS WITH: (I) A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER; (II) A BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER; (III) LAW ENFORCEMENT IF THE RECIPIENT BELIEVES A CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED; OR (IV) THE RECIP- IENT'S ATTORNEY. (C) A COVER LETTER SHALL ACCOMPANY RECORDS AND REPORTS RELEASED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION AND SHALL STATE: PURSUANT TO SECTION 33.25 OF THE MENTAL HYGIENE LAW, THE ATTACHED RECORDS AND REPORTS SHALL NOT BE FURTHER DISSEMINATED, EXCEPT THAT YOU MAY SHARE THE REPORT WITH: (I) A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER; (II) A BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER; (III) LAW ENFORCEMENT, IF YOU BELIEVE A CRIME HAS BEEN COMMITTED; OR (IV) YOUR ATTORNEY. (D) NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL PROHIBIT THE RECEIPT, USE OR DISSEM- INATION OF ANY SUCH RECORDS, REPORTS, INFORMATION OR RESULTS OF INVESTI- GATIONS OR INQUIRY BY ANY PATIENT, FORMER PATIENT, OR QUALIFIED PERSON OR PERSON OR OFFICIAL SPECIFIED IN PARAGRAPH (I), (II), (III) OR (IV) OF SUBDIVISION (B) OF THIS SECTION ACTING ON BEHALF OF ANY PATIENT, FORMER PATIENT OR PATIENT'S ESTATE, IN ANY LEGAL ACTION OR PROCEEDING BROUGHT BY OR ON BEHALF OF SUCH PATIENT, FORMER PATIENT OR PATIENT'S ESTATE. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07444-01-3