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New Laws On Insulin Prices, Parentage, Pulse Oximeters Took Effect On January 1



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By Jim Taylor

Connecticut residents can begin receiving up to 12 weeks of paid time off from the state’s new paid family and medical leave program beginning with the new year. It’s one of a handful of new state laws officially in effect as of January 1.

The family and medical leave law, which was originally signed by Democratic Gov Ned Lamont in 2019, allows workers to get paid while they take time off to care for their own health, a newborn child, or a sick family member. The program, which state officials say marks the eighth of its kind in the nation, is paid for through a 0.5% tax on employee wages that began a year ago.

The amount of money workers can receive varies, depending on their salaries, and is capped at 60 times the state’s minimum wage, which is currently $13 an hour.

Some other new laws set to take effect include the following:

Insulin prices

Out-of-pocket costs for insulin will be limited to $25 a month, while the out-of-pocket expense for equipment and supplies, such as blood glucose test strips and insulin syringes, will be limited to $100 a month for those with health insurance that is regulated by the state.

State Sen Matthew Lesser, D-Middletown, cochair of the General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said Connecticut’s law is the “strongest in the country.” However, he said there still needs to be national legislation “because there are too many people who will fall through the cracks otherwise.”

Parentage Act

The Connecticut Parentage Act will allow unmarried, same-sex or nonbiological parents to establish their parenting rights through a simple form, known as an Acknowledgment of Parentage.

The advocacy group GLAD and the Yale Law School, which worked to pass the legislation, say that will ensure the parents can legally establish their parental rights immediately after the child is born.

Such rights include the ability to make medical decisions for a child and ensure the child receives insurance benefits or inheritance rights. Also, advocates say the new law will protect parents’ parental rights if they separate from one another.

Childhood Vaccines

Certain health providers in Connecticut that cover prescription drugs will now be required to cover the cost of at least a 20-minute immunization consultation between a patient and provider that administers vaccines recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The provision was tucked into a wider-ranging bill that was signed into law in 2021 and eliminated the state’s religious exemption from the immunization requirements for students attending public and private schools, including higher education institutions, as well as child care centers and group and family day care homes.

The controversial change, which sparked large protests at the Capitol, came after state public health officials and some state legislators raised concerns about the growing number of parents claiming medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, and other diseases.

The law, which does not apply to the COVID-19 vaccines, grandfathered students in kindergarten and older who had received a religious exemption before April 28, 2021.

Police Officer’s Use Of Force

This act institutes new rules which will limit the instances in which a police officer’s use of deadly force can be considered justified when making an arrest or preventing escape. Additionally, the law limits when choke holds or other forms of restraint may be used. To be justified, the officer must determine if there are no other reasonable alternatives; additionally, to use deadly force on an escaping suspect, they must determine that the individual is a threat of death or serious injury to others. Factors that may determine if deadly force may be reasonable include if the officer’s own actions leading to the situation could be considered justified or unjustified.

Accessory Apartments And Fair Housing

This act will require towns to modify their zoning regulations to make accessory apartments or “in-law apartments” an “of right” use for single family homes unless the town follows an “opt out process” requiring a two-thirds vote from its zoning commission and legislative body.

The law also stops town zoning regulations from establishing minimum floor area requirements above proper safety code to prevent overcrowding. Additionally, it requires regulations to provide for varied housing opportunities to further the federal Fair Housing Act.

Stopping Insurance Discrimination Of Organ Donors

This act prohibits an insurer from discriminating against living organ donation by declining or limiting coverage solely because the insured is a living organ donor; prohibiting the insured from donating an organ as a condition of maintaining coverage; or otherwise discriminating in offering, issuing, amending, or cancelling a policy, or in setting prices, conditions, or coverage of the policy. Discrimination of this kind will be considered a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act, which prohibits insurance companies from unfair business acts.

The act also creates the Chronic Kidney Disease Advisory Committee to study kidney disease and racial disparities among those afflicted with kidney disease.

Educating On Pulse Oximeters

This act requires the Department of Public Health by January 1 and in consultation with the Insurance Department, to develop educational materials on pulse oximeters, particularly including information on the device’s tendency to produce inaccurate readings for patients of color as opposed to Caucasian patients. Pulse oximeters are electronic devices that estimate the percentage of oxygen in a person’s blood.

The educational materials are required to be posted on the Department of Public Health website by July 1, as well as distributed to pharmacies, medical schools, health carriers, and health care providers.

Limiting Prescribed Psychotropic Drugs

This act prohibits health insurance policies covering outpatient prescription drugs, as well as mental health care benefits provided under state law, from requiring a health care provider to prescribe more of a psychotropic drug than is deemed clinically appropriate. Psychotropic drugs are any substance that can affect brain function and change moods, awareness, thoughts, behaviors, or feelings. The act additionally establishes a 10-member task force to study ways to encourage mental health service providers to participate in provider networks. The task force must report its findings and recommendations to the Insurance and Real Estate Committee by January 1.

Associated Press content was used in this report.

Reporter Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

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