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New York must make sure insurers cover mental health

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The law to require mental health education in New York schools is a good step [“LI Schools’ New Focus on Mental Health,” News, Nov. 28]. However, almost half of all children in the country with a mental health disorder did not receive necessary care from a mental health professional in 2016, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

We educate children to spot signs and symptoms and find resources — and then, in a cruel twist, many cannot access care.

Federal law requires insurers to treat mental health benefits the same as medical benefits, and to provide enrollees with timely access to a sufficient number of suitable mental health providers. This is known as network adequacy.

Too often, this does not happen, especially for middle-class and working-poor families, because health insurers pay substandard rates of reimbursement for mental health care, thus depleting the networks. When families call for help, they are too often told, “I don’t accept your insurance.”

The health insurance industry does not comply with federal parity, and New York State does not adequately enforce the law. The state mandates mental health education in schools and lets the health insurance industry slide.

What do our kids learn? Once stigma is lifted, discrimination kicks in.

Andrew Malekoff,

  Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center, a children’s mental health center in Roslyn Heights.

Kudos to Long Island schools and educators for intensifying their focus on mental health and offering programs to address mental wellness [“Focusing on mental health ed,” News, Nov. 28].

As a retired teacher, I believe the most effective contribution the programs can achieve is to provide students with realistic career goals, based on aptitudes and talents. Young people with direction are less inclined to get off-track and develop mental health issues.

Fred Barnett,

  Lake Grove

Suffolk OTB should think big farther east

If Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting wants to build a second casino, it should recognize the many residents of Medford who spoke loud and clear about not wanting one in their community [“Casino plans revived,” News, Nov. 28].

OTB should instead follow the Tioga Downs Casino Resort model in upstate New York by building a casino farther out toward the East End and including a hotel and racetrack. While this larger idea would add substantial cost, running a short 20- to 30-day race meeting in the fall would boost the area’s economy, which usually lags after Labor Day. In the spring and summer, the grandstand could host concerts.

A location toward the East End would provide more separation between the existing Islandia casino and a new one, where I believe it would get less community resistance.

Gerard Bringmann,


Editor’s note: The writer served as a manager at the Suffolk Meadows Racetrack in Yaphank in 1986 and as a clerk at Tioga Park in Nichols, N.Y., in 1978.

A candidate cannot buy an election

I was surprised at and dismayed by Newsday’s publication of a Jimmy Margulies editorial cartoon on Nov. 29 showing Michael Bloomberg as a moneybags holding a box of ballots with the word “sold” on it.

So how does one buy an election? Do you go door to door with cash? How about offering a check if you win?

The best a candidate can do is pay for a campaign without outside money and its influence. Is Margulies saying that PAC money or money from large donors doesn’t affect elections? Maybe the cartoon is saying that only private-candidate money makes a difference? And where are the cartoons on billionaire Tom Steyer, also a Democratic candidate for president?

I believe that a candidate unaffected by outside money, one who is so nonpartisan he has won elections as a Republican and as a Democrat, is honest, reasonable, intelligent, moderate and a proven success politically and in business, is the right direction to take.

An implication that Bloomberg can somehow buy an election is as ridiculous as the claim by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that he is unqualified to run, apparently only because he is so rich.

Larry Siegel,


The president is in charge of the military

I couldn’t help but be struck by former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s criticism after President Donald Trump defied military protocol and intervened in the case of Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher [“Ex-Navy secretary skewers Trump,” News, Nov. 29].

Spencer does not seem to understand that U.S. military answers to the president, not the other way around! Nowhere have I ever heard that the president has to do as the military wants.

Although he was opposed by some senior military leaders, President Harry Truman brought about the desegregation of the U.S. military in 1948 through an executive order.

Anthony Johnson Sr.,