May 21, 2019

Senator Abrams Leads Senate Passage To Create Certification Program For Community Health Workers

HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) led the Senate’s passage of legislation that would create a certification program for community health workers. Starting in 2020, this program will ensure public health workers who organize access between communities and healthcare and social services are certified to perform that role adequately.

“By ensuring that community health workers are certified, showing the extent of their hard work and proving they are prepared and ready to help their communities, we acknowledge the extent of their hard work and contributions to their communities,” said Sen. Abrams. “Community health workers are public health outreach professionals with in-depth understanding of their communities’ experience, language, culture and socioeconomic needs. They serve as liasons between community members and health care and social service providers and provide a range of services, including outreach, advocacy and care coordination. At least nine states have training and certification programs already, including our neighbors Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Studies show that every dollar invested in community health workers returns between $1.12 and $2.40 in returns on financial investment. I’m looking forward to this legislation reaching the House floor.”

Senate Bill No. 859, “An Act Concerning Community Health Workers,” concerns creating a certification program for public health professionals who work to support their communities through connecting individuals with healthcare and social services and educating individuals on health knowledge and self-protection. The Department of Public Health would be charged with creating a certification program by the start of 2020.

The bill previously passed the Public Health and Appropriations Committees and received support in public testimony from dozens of professionals as well as the Office of Health Strategy, Department of Public Health, Connecticut Hospital Association, Connecticut Nurses Association, Connecticut Public Health Association and the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. Supporters mentioned benefits from the bill that range from creating a framework that could lead to a more sustainable model of funding for community health workers in the future to improving health outcomes for Connecticut residents.