Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

March 9, 2023

Senate Bill 6 Promoting a Healthier Connecticut to Receive Public Hearing Today

HARTFORD, CT – Today, priority legislation for Senate Democrats that seeks to address delays and inefficiencies to care will receive a public hearing in the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. Senate Bill 6: “An Act Concerning Utilization Review and Health Care Contracts, Health Insurance Coverage for Newborns and Step Therapy,” was introduced as one of 10 priorities for the caucus in January.

Senate Bill 6 implements several changes to make more efficient the currently cumbersome and lengthy administrative process of prior authorization, which frequently delays care for patients and unnecessarily occupies health care workers seeking to obtain required approval from insurance companies to fill prescriptions and/or treat patients. The legislation will also broaden prohibitions on step therapy, a cost-cutting practice by insurers which also needlessly delays care, as patients gradually progress through less costly medications, and as they fail, are then provided access to the medication the patient originally required. Regarding newborns, Senate Bill 6 will lengthen the deadline for parents of newborns to enroll the child in their insurance to 121 days, or the discharge from the hospital, whichever is later. Currently, parents must do so 61 days after the baby is born, a deadline which can pass parents by as they acclimate to parenthood and, in some instances, comes before the baby leaves the hospital to go home with their family.

State Senator Jorge Cabrera (D-Hamden) serves as Senate Chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee and said passing this bill will mean less headaches for patients and health care workers.

“It is unconscionable that people in need of care are instead being given the runaround and suffering as insurance companies boost their already exorbitant profits through these cost-cutting measures that endanger the health of patients,” said Sen. Cabrera. “Passing this bill means less red tape for these patients and health care workers, which will lead to better outcomes for those in need of care and reduce some of the workload on those that administer care. Additionally, giving parents more time to insure their child as they transition to parenthood, attempt to catch up on sleep and bond with their little one is a no-brainer. I am eager to get this done, as it is high-time we hold insurance companies accountable by dramatically reducing the instances in which they can put profits over patients.”

State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) has been vocal about the need to address these issues and said this is a strong step in the right direction.

“Senate Bill 6 seeks to improve health insurance in a way that will improve public health,” said Sen. Anwar, who is also a doctor. “Among its most important steps are to aid young families by giving them more time to inform insurance of the birth of a newborn, removing a potential financial cliff, and prohibits the use of step therapy, which can delay effective treatment for serious conditions. As a physician, I have seen too many patients struggle with insurance red tape; this bill alleviates that stress.”

Budget Safeguards

The senator also voted today to continue the Democrat-led financial restraints that were first put in place in 2017.

Senate Bill 6 will tackle the following:

Prior Authorization

  • Shorter Timelines to Move the Process Along – Adjusting the deadline for reviews, whether they be concurrent or prospective, to 72 hours from the current 15 days. The bill also allows a possible 72-hour extension. A 72-hour deadline would put Connecticut in line with at least 13 other states, including traditionally red states such as Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee
  • Prohibiting Prior Authorization for Previously Approved Care – The bill prohibits insurers from requiring prior authorization for a service or prescription that previously was approved for a patient
  • Electronic Prior Authorization – To further address long wait times or archaic means of communication, such as using a fax machine, the legislation requires insurers to provide electronic filings of prior authorization requestion
  • Gold Card Program – SB 6 creates a new program to allow providers to avoid prior authorization for a health care service, including prescriptions, for which they maintain a 90% approval rate for. This is modeled after Texas legislation adopted in 2021 and in effect today
  • 24/7 Review Prior Authorization Review – The bill requires insurers to process prior authorization requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week and on holidays to keep pace with the round-the-clock nature of care

Step Therapy

  • • Broadening Step Therapy Prohibitions – The bill will expand the state’s prohibition on step-therapy that currently only covers state IV metastatic cancer, to any behavioral health condition or a chronic, disabling, or life-threatening condition or disease

Care for Newborns

  • Extending the Enrollment Deadline – The bill extends the time parents must enroll their newborn in their insurance from 61 days to 121 or the date of discharge from the hospital, depending on whichever date is later