2024 State Legislative Session Addresses Many of AARP Connecticut’s Priorities

Posted on 05/22/24

AARP’s purpose is to empower people to choose how they live as they age. Many policy changes enacted this legislative session will help Connecticut residents do just that.

 Most older adults want to remain in their own home and community as they age. AARP staff, volunteers and member e-activists worked diligently during the 2024 Connecticut Legislative Session with lawmakers, policymakers, and other non-profit organizations to ensure our state’s residents and older adults are supported through program availability, quality services, consumer protections and initiatives to address affordability and the cost of living in Connecticut.

AARP Connecticut appreciates the bipartisan efforts that resulted in the passage of many key priorities during the 2024 Legislative Session, including the below highlights:

Nursing Home and Home-Based Care (House Bill 5001)
AARP Connecticut was a leading advocate of this omnibus aging bill that will benefit older adults. Several of the important provisions in the legislation include presumptive eligibility for Medicaid HCBS; creating a home care provider registry and data processing system for Medicaid HCBS recipients; requiring state agencies that oversee nursing homes to promote the Medicare Nursing Home Care Compare website on their department websites; increasing locations to fingerprint new homecare workers; expanding duties for municipal agents for the elderly, including helping older adults access housing resources; improving consumer protections for residents of managed residential communities (assisted living); a study of Medicaid family caregiver support benefits; establishing a Nursing Home Center of Excellence Program; and creating a state-run online nursing home consumer dashboard.

Expanding Paid Sick Days (House Bill 5005)
There are an estimated 38 million family caregivers providing $600 billion of care across the nation and an estimate 420,000 in Connecticut providing unpaid care valued at approximately $7.2 billion. Access to workplace flexibility is critical for the 60% of family caregivers who juggle work and caregiving responsibilities. This legislation will allow more caregivers to use paid sick days to care for ill or injured family members. House Bill 5005 will expand paid sick leave to cover nearly all private sector employees and employers with at least 25 employees in 2025, those with at least 11 employees in 2026, and those with at least one employee in 2027. Only 12% of unpaid caregivers who care for an adult loved one care for a spouse, and 6% care for an adult child with disabilities or serious illness – currently the only two types of family members who are covered under the state’s paid sick law. With HB 5005, the range of “family members” for whom employees may use paid sick leave will expand to include their adult children, siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and anyone related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be equivalent to those family members.

Unfair Service Agreements (Senate Bill 201, sections 1-6)
Unfair service agreements occur when a homeowner exchanges the 40-year exclusive right to list their home for sale to an agent for a small cash payment of a few hundred dollars. If a homeowner chooses to sell their home during that time, the agent merely posts the home to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and does not serve as a real estate agent. If the homeowner seeks to cancel the exclusive listing agreement or list their home without using the agent, they are subject to a draconian penalty of 3% of the market price of their home – often worth several thousand dollars. Moreover, the exclusive listing agreements are entered on the land records as a lien. AARP supports the sections of this legislation that prohibits residential property owners from “unfair real estate listing agreements” with these providers, renders the agreements unenforceable, and makes violations an unfair or deceptive practice under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Solar Study (Senate Bill 385, section 7)
AARP has been at the forefront of advocacy in support of policy and regulations that are in the best interest of Connecticut’s consumers of energy. With price decreases and new financing models, residential solar panels have become more popular in recent years, however a promise of full retail rate payments or credits from the utility provider may also be part of the investment in solar. Some solar company agents include claims of “free electricity” and “no more electric bills” solar system marketing materials. AARP supports the policy that establishes a task force to examine and make recommendations on policy, regulations, and legislation that will improve disclosure requirements and consumer protection for customers who purchase, lease, or enter into PPAs for solar facilities. It requires the taskforce to examine whether special protections are needed for low-income consumers or senior citizens. By deterring misleading and deceptive sales and marketing practices we will encourage consumers’ well-informed purchase of sustainable energy and benefit those solar companies and agents that engage in honest and accurate sales of solar systems.

Nursing Home Quality of Life (House Bill 5046)
AARP supports this nursing home reform legislation that will phase out rooms with three and four beds beginning in 2026, extend existing federal procedure and penalties for federal nursing home violations to state laws and regulations, impose penalties on facilities that fail to comply with state-issued corrective action plans, give assisted living facility residents 90 days’ notice prior to increasing fees and provide full refunds if the facility cannot meet the resident’s needs within the first 45 days of occupancy, updates criteria for who can be appointed as the receiver of a facility that goes into receivership, and requires nursing facility management services certificate applicants to disclose the names of everyone who has a 5% or greater ownership interest and their relationship to the applicant.

Nurse Licensure Compact (House Bill 5058)
This legislation enters Connecticut into the Nurse Licensure Compact from October 1, 2025, until January 1, 2028, creating a process for registered nurses (RNs) or licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/VNs) to get a multistate license that allows them to practice in any compact party state (including by telehealth). AARP supports interstate licensure compacts for physicians, nurses, and other licensed health professionals because they expand provider networks and reduce interstate barriers to telehealth. Joining the NLC is the most effective immediate solution at hand to our nursing shortage that negatively impacts healthcare access, drives up costs, and threatens the health of our growing older population. The shortage also puts additional stress on unpaid family caregivers.

Telehealth (House Bill 5198)
According to a 2022 AARP study, 32% of older adults were extremely or very interested in using telehealth services for themselves, a 30% increase from 2020, and slightly more than half of older adults responded they or a family member have used telehealth within the past two years. HB 5198 makes permanent certain temporary expanded requirements for telehealth service delivery and insurance coverage enacted during the pandemic that would have sunset under current law on June 30, 2024. The provisions also include allowing authorized telehealth providers to use audio-only telephones to provide services; allowing authorized providers to deliver telehealth services from any location to patients at any location, subject to applicable state and federal requirements; prohibiting providers from charging uninsured patients more than the Medicare reimbursement rate for telehealth services; and prohibiting health carriers (e.g., insurers and HMOs) from reducing the amount of reimbursement they pay to telehealth providers for covered services appropriately provided through telehealth instead of in-person.

In addition to advocacy work, AARP is committed to providing valuable information and resources through a wide variety of free educational, interactive, and fun events. Learn more about AARP in Connecticut at www.aarp.org/ct and explore the variety of in-person and virtual offerings at www.aarp.org/CTEvents. Stay informed by signing up for our emails.

This story is provided by AARP Connecticut. Visit the AARP Connecticut page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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