Gov. Lamont signs sweeping nursing home reforms

For one state lawmaker who lost her father-in-law at a facility, this day was four years in the making.

John Craven

Jun 4, 2024, 10:22 PM

Updated 19 days ago

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Amid a jump in serious violations at elder care facilities, Gov. Ned Lamont signed sweeping new protections for patients and their families on Tuesday.
For one state lawmaker who lost her father-in-law at a facility, this day was four years in the making.
"NOBODY HAD ON GLOVES"
The COVID pandemic exposed glaring safety issues at Connecticut nursing homes. Michelle Cook's father-in-law died in one at age 90.
"When I was greeted at the door, nobody had on gloves," she told News 12 Connecticut in October 2020. "Nobody had on a mask. Nobody had on anything."
Cook is also a state representative from Torrington. Since then, she has pushed for elder care reforms.
"No one should come to work that day to fear that they're the only staff that's taking care of 84 residents," she said Tuesday. "It's not acceptable."
NEW LAWS
Cook stood behind Lamont as he signed two new laws targeting safety and transparency at nursing facilities.
One law limits rooms to two patients, beginning in 2026. Currently, 16 nursing homes house up to four patients in a room.
"My daughter goes to the University of Florida – has her own bathroom, her own bedroom," said AARP CT state director Nora Duncan. "If that's how we pay for our college kids, that's how we need to be paying for some of the most vulnerable people in our populations."
Nursing facilities will also face stricter penalties for "an imminently serious threat to patient well-being," including license revocation and losing Medicaid funding. It will also be easier to place facilities into receivership if they "sustain any type of serious financial loss that jeopardizes the health, safety, and welfare of the patients."
The other new law creates a Medicaid registry for home care workers, who will also be required to wear photo identification.
"We've got [Department of] Public Health and [Department of Social Services] taking a good, hard look at those places that maybe need a little special attention," Lamont said. "Make sure that they're held accountable as well."
FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY
There are also new financial protections for patients and their families.
Customers will now get 90 days notice (in writing) if their fees go up; assisted living residents will get 60 days. Patients must also receive a schedule of when fees will increase, and can even get refunded for reduced care services,
Families looking for a nursing home will be able to search a new online dashboard. It will also be easier for displaced residents to move to other facilities, if their nursing home closes.
None of it is enough to bring back William Cook, but his daughter-in-law said it will save lives.
"The choices that are made for us, or because of us, should be in a safe environment," said Michelle Cook.


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