Over half of the COVID-19-related deaths in Connecticut (54%) occurred in the state’s long-term care facilities. In the 2021 legislative session, which just ended, state lawmakers considered a multitude of bills designed to address significant issues in long-term care that emerged from or were exacerbated by the pandemic.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy monitored the progression of these proposed bills through the state legislature. Below are key pieces of successful legislation that the Center believes will have wide-ranging, long-term care impacts in the state – spanning from resident rights, minimum direct care staffing requirements, technology for virtual visitation and safety monitoring, telehealth, access to home health services, and long-term care insurance. They may also serve as examples for future action nationally or in other states.
|Legislation Title||Bill/Public Act No.||Summary|
|An Act Strengthening the Bill of Rights for Long-Term Care Residents and Authorizing the Use of Resident Technology for Virtual Visitation and Virtual Monitoring||SB975, Public Act No. 21-55||Affirms that residents of long-term care facilities have the right to treat their living quarters as their homes and have the same rights as all other state residents, including the right to use technology for purposes such as virtual visitation and filing grievances for the violation of their rights.|
|An Act Concerning Access to Recordings and Images from Technology Used by Nursing Home Residents for Virtual Visitation and Virtual Monitoring||HB6457, Public Act No. 21-160||An employee of a nursing home facility or employee of a contractor providing services at a nursing home facility who is the subject of proposed disciplinary action by the nursing home facility based upon evidence obtained from technology used by a resident for virtual visitation or virtual monitoring will be given access to the evidence by the nursing home facility for the purposes of defending against such action.|
|An Act Concerning Nursing Homes and Dementia Care Units||SB1030, Public Act No. 21-185||Included in this bill are multiple revisions to long-term care facility statutes, including minimum staffing level requirements in nursing homes. Key provisions: Minimum staffing requirement of 3 hours of direct care per resident per day (increase from current 1.9 hours per resident per day)Enhancing infection control procedures in nursing homes, such as requiring a full-time infection prevention and control specialistImproving emergency planning in nursing homes and other long-term care facilitiesRequiring at least a two-month supply of personal protective equipment for staff, in various sizes.Nursing home administrative heads are required to establish protocols to address resident’s social, emotional, and mental needs.|
|An Act Concerning Physician Assistants||SB1070, Public Act No. 21-196||This bill allows physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to issue home health orders.|
|An Act Concerning Payment Recoveries and Incentives Under Public Assistance Programs||HB6319, Public Act No. 21-65||This bill includes two main provisions: Requires family members of a be notified in writing when the state is claiming the estate of their deceased “next of kin” for public assistance debt. Makes permanent a pilot incentive program for providers who deliver public assistance for less than the contract amount of payment.|
|An Act Concerning Essential Support Persons and a State-wide Visitation Policy for Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities||HB6634, Public Act No. 21-71||This legislation will allow long-term care facility residents (or their representatives) to designate two essential support persons who will be allowed to visit in order to attend to the physical, emotional, psychological and socialization needs of the resident despite any potential general visitation restrictions imposed.|
|An Act Strengthening the Voice of Residents and Family Councils||SB973, Public Act No. 21-194||This legislation requires input from resident councils and family councils* at long-term care facilities regarding any state-wide policies affecting living conditions for residents in the facilities. *Resident and family councils in LTC facilities alert management of those facilities about any concerns regarding the living conditions and care of residents.|
|An Act Concerning Telehealth||HB5596, Public Act No. 21-9||This legislation extends the telehealth service provisions initially enacted through the state’s emergency executive order due to the COVID-19 pandemic through June 30, 2023.|
|An Act Concerning Equitable Access to Broadband||HB6442, Public Act No. 21-159||This bill implements the Governor’s budget recommendations to promote broadband build-out throughout Connecticut by: Developing an up-to-date state-wide broadband map with data showing with availability of broadband Internet access services, including download and upload speeds.Establishing a grant program to support the deployment of broadband access services, subject to availability of federal funding.Initiate a process for the construction of underground facilities to provide a conduit for telecommunications and broadband Internet service providers.|
|An Act Concerning Long-Term Care Insurance||SB1046, Public Act No. 21-150||This legislation includes a variety of consumer protection initiatives imposing measures on insurers that sell long-term care insurance in Connecticut including: Requiring the development of a minimum set of affordable benefit options for long-term care policies. Prohibiting insurers from filing additional rate increases for three years following an increase of 20 percent or more.Prohibiting insurers from offering long-term care insurance policies in the state unless the insurer is also authorized or licensed to sell another type of insurance.|
July 1, 2021 – C. St. John
 KFF. State COVID-19 Data and Policy Actions. Available at: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/state-covid-19-data-and-policy-actions/