Connecticut Legislature Modifies Public Health Statutes
On July 9, 2019, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law Public Act No. 19-118 “An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health’s Recommendations for Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes” (PA 19-118). Certain relevant provisions of PA 19-118 are described below.
The following provisions of PA 19-118 are effective July 1, 2019
Changes in Ownership
Under prior law, facilities and residential care homes, defined as community residences that furnish, in single or multiple facilities, food and shelter, and services beyond the basic provisions of food, shelter and laundry, that were owned by an individual, partnership or association were required to provide the Department of Public Health (DPH) with at least 90 days’ prior notice in the event of a change in ownership. The same notification requirement applied to a change in ownership (or beneficial ownership) of at least 10% of a corporation that owned such facility or residential care home. PA 19-118 revises current law by increasing the notice period to 120 days and expanding its applicability from facilities and residential care homes to all “institutions” as defined by Connecticut law. Institutions include, among others, hospitals, nursing homes, home health care agencies, outpatient clinics, outpatient surgical facilities, and certain behavioral health facilities, and substance abuse treatment facilities.
Currently, multicare institutions include psychiatric outpatient clinics for adults, free-standing facilities for substance abuse treatment, psychiatric hospitals, or certain general acute care hospitals. PA 19-118 modifies the definition of “multicare institution” to include hospitals that provide outpatient behavioral or other health care services, and requires all such hospitals to provide DPH with a list of their satellite units when completing initial or renewal licensure applications. This legislation defines a “satellite unit” as a location where the multicare institution provides a segregated unit of services.
Pursuant to existing law, multicare institutions may, under their licenses, provide behavioral health services or substance use disorder treatment at more than one facility, a satellite unit or another location acceptable to the patient and consistent with the patient’s assessment and treatment plan. PA 19-118 specifies that behavioral health services or substance use disorder treatment services may include methadone delivery and related substance use treatment services to persons in a nursing home facility.
Previous law required DPH to license and inspect outpatient clinics that provided medical or mental health services, urgent care services or well-child clinical services, every three years, with limited exceptions. However, under PA 19-118, outpatient clinics that receive accreditation from a national accrediting organization within the prior twelve months may be inspected every four years, unless the outpatient clinic committed a violation that would pose an immediate threat to the health, safety or welfare of its patients. Outpatient clinics are organizations operated by a municipality or a corporation, other than a hospital, that provide (1) ambulatory medical care, (2) dental care, or (3) mental health services in conjunction with medical or dental care, and that does not require the patient’s overnight care.
Behavioral Health Facilities
Existing law requires nursing homes to immediately report “reportable events” to DPH. Reportable events include, among other things, instances of facility evacuation, missing residents, unanticipated deaths, and abuse and neglect allegations. PA 19-118 expands this reporting requirement to behavioral health facilities. Once DPH develops an electronic reporting system for such reportable events, nursing homes and behavioral health facilities must notify DPH of reportable events via the electronic system.
Health Care Practitioner Discipline
Existing law permits DPH or an applicable health care practitioner licensing board to take disciplinary action against a health care practitioner’s (physician, nurse, etc.) license or permit in a number of circumstances. PA 19-118 expands the authority of DPH and the applicable licensing board to allow either to take disciplinary action against a health care practitioner’s Connecticut license or permit in the event the practitioner voluntarily surrendered, or entered into an agreement not to renew or reinstate, his or her license or permit in another jurisdiction.
The following provision of PA 19-118 is effective from passage
Existing law exempts from taxation real or personal property which is leased or owned by a nonprofit and which is the location of a licensed residential care home or rest home. PA 19-118 additionally exempts from taxation such property that is the location of a nursing home or nursing home facility. Additionally, existing law requires owners of real property on which residential care homes or rest homes sit, but who are not the licensee of the home, to submit a copy of the lease to DPH upon a change of ownership and with each license renewal application. PA 19-118 extends this requirement to non-licensee owners of real property on which nursing homes and nursing home facilities sit.