Martha Marx


Martha Marx



May 25, 2023


Today, State Senator Martha Marx (D-New London), Senate Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, proudly joined the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 9, flagship legislation in the 2023 legislative session that aims to ease access to health care around the state and provide new ways for the state to fight against the ongoing opioid crisis. The bill passed with unanimous Senate support.

This bill, with more than 30 sections, aims to address a number of pressing matters in the state, including protecting reproductive health rights, developing new strategies to support the safety and potential treatment of individuals with substance use disorders and bolster hiring and workforce pipelines for health care professions in the state – among many other changes.

“We need to improve access to care across our state as service gaps and patient wait times only increase,” said Sen. Marx. “We also need to adopt new approaches to the opioid crisis to reduce its impacts on our communities and save lives. This bill will take significant steps forward to address significant issues in our state’s health care and benefit patients, professionals and individuals all around our state. I’m proud to vote in support and look forward to this bill becoming law once it’s passed by the House and signed by Governor Lamont.”

Senate Bill 9, “An Act Concerning Health and Wellness For Connecticut Residents,” would make changes to laws involving health care and medical treatment including, but not limited to:

Preventing any person from prohibiting or limiting others from accessing assisted reproductive technology or assisted reproduction, or from administering assisted reproductive technology – in other words, putting new protections on medical practices such as in-vitro fertilization and fertility treatments to pre-empt attacks on such services seen in other states; allow the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, with the Department of Public Health, to establish a pilot program through the establishment of harm reduction centers. These centers would be facilities where individuals with substance use disorder would be able to receive counseling, use test strips to test substances for substances like fentanyl, receive information about opioid antagonists like Narcan, receive referrals to mental health treatment and access basic services like bathrooms, showers and places to rest.

Nearly 200 harm reduction sites operate in 14 countries globally; Their development comes as the opioid crisis continues to roil the United States and Connecticut; in 2022, Connecticut tracked 1,467 fatal drug overdoses in the state, with 92% being tied to opioids and 85.3% tied to presence of fentanyl; Rhode Island and New York City operate harm reduction centers; Maine is considering similar concepts at this time. The National Institutes of Health are establishing a research network to examine the most effective strategies to support harm reduction; Establish an Opioid Antagonist Bulk Purchase Fund, which could be used by municipalities, boards of education, departments of health, municipal health departments or law enforcement agencies to purchase opioid antagonists like Narcan in bulk at a discounted price, expanding the drug’s availability while lowering the cost of acquisition for governmental bodies.

This would increase availability and decrease the cost of purchasing potentially lifesaving opioid antagonists. According to Pew, there is a direct connection between increasing the availability of opioid antagonists and a reduction in the rate of opioid overdose deaths. Colorado passed similar legislation allowing eligible entities to purchase naloxone or Narcan at low or no cost. Since 2016, opioid antagonists have reversed more than 2,000 overdoses statewide, according to the Connecticut Mirror. Each eligible entity shall make bulk-purchased opioid antagonists available at no charge to a family member, caregiver or friend of a person who has experienced an overdose or displays symptoms of opioid use disorder; when prescribing an opioid to an adult patient for the first time, the prescription would not be for more than seven days’ supply; a minor patient could not receive more than five days’ supply. If more than this amount is needed, it will be documented in a patient’s medical record. Any patient receiving an opioid prescription will receive counseling on the risks of addiction from a medical professional and will be recommended to obtain an opioid antagonist; the Office of Emergency Medical Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Department of Consumer Protection would develop a program for the provision of opioid antagonists like Narcan and a fact sheet to inform the public about how to properly use them.

The Commissioner of Education would establish a Health Care Career Advisory Council comprised of medical professionals in fields across the health
care profession. That council would advise the development of a health care career program promoting health care professions to students in middle and high school, as well as job shadowing and internship experiences for high school students, to support a workforce pipeline connecting students with potential career opportunities; the Office of Workforce Strategy would create a working group to develop recommendations for expanding the state’s nursing workforce, examining quality of education programs in the state, clinical training programs and expansion of training facilities in the state among others. Federal estimates believe the country could see a shortage of registered nurses that could expand as high as 450,000 empty positions by 2025; beginning in 2024, higher education institutions would consider any licensed health care provider with more than 10 years of clinical health care experience applying for a position as an adjunct faculty member to be considered a qualified applicant. Licensed health care providers will also be eligible for a grant program offering grants of $20,000 if they accept a position as an adjunct professor and remain in that position for at least a full academic year, with that total doubling if they remain in position for at least another year; a new career pathway for personal care attendants would be created to improve employment retention and recruitment as well as improved care for those receiving services from such attendants; personal care attendants assist eligible adults who need assistance to remain at home and provide alternatives to care homes or institutions for seniors wanting to remain at home; non-compete clauses for physicians and nurses will have newly restricted uses. They will be deemed unenforceable if the physician does not agree with a proposed material change at time of extension or renewal of such a contract or agreement; or if a contract or agreement expires and is not renewed, or contractual relationship is terminated by an employer in all cases but termination for cause; workers with three or more years of experienced as an advanced practice registered nurse can apply for licensure for that role. These steps would ease restrictions potentially contributing to qualified nursing professionals being unable to fill certain employment roles; the Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Public Health will develop a maternal mental health toolkit to support young families and better approach the subject of mood and anxiety disorders that can develop for pregnant and young mothers; training of such disorders will be provided to health care workers providing direct care to women who are pregnant or postpartum. According to the World Health Organization, about 10% of pregnant women and 13% who recently gave birth experience mental disorders. Left untreated, these conditions can compound and cause serious impacts including suicide; a task force to study childhood and adult psychosis would be developed, aiming to evaluate and create care pathways treating individuals experiencing early or first episode psychosis. Studies show that there can be a significant delay of psychotic symptoms and start of appropriate treatment; research shows that shorter durations of untreated psychosis correlate to better responses to treatment and increased odds of good recovery; the Departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Social Services and Children and Families will evaluate existing programs for those with substance use disorder who are caregivers of children and find new means of support for them in the future; he bill previously passed the Public Health Committee by a 27-10 vote in March; it now heads to the House for further consideration.