Saud Anwar

State Senator

Saud Anwar

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working For You

March 22, 2024
Contact: Joe O’Leary | | 508-479-4969
March 22, 2024

Legislation would increase staffing and patient support and prevent discrimination based on mental health

As work during the 2024 legislative session continues, members of the Public Health Committee recently passed legislation supporting nursing home residents. The two bills, if passed, would respectively provide stronger guidelines and ensure direct care for residents and prevent discrimination against them based on their mental health history. Both bills passed on March 20.

“The health and well-being of our state’s vulnerable must remain on the forefront of legislators’ minds when considering public health,” said State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee. “These bills will play a direct role in supporting seniors needing daily aid, ensuring they get the care they need and are not discriminated against for past health history. I look forward to my colleagues’ support when I introduce it on the Senate floor.”

Senate Bill 273, “An Act Concerning Nursing Home Staffing,” redefines the term “direct care” in nursing homes to refer to hands-on care provided by a nurse or aide to a resident including aid with daily tasks and excepting food preparation, housekeeping and maintenance. If passed, it would require new minimum staffing levels of three hours of direct care for nursing home residents per day, including at least half an hour of care by a registered nurse and more than 15 minutes daily of care by a licensed practical nurse.

It would also require modifications to social work so a worker’s number of hours is based on the number of residents in a home.

This legislation is based on situations reported by patients in past years where they were not receiving the direct care they needed, as well as disparities in the care received by different residents. Direct care is a vital tool to determine maximum amounts of hands-on care so residents receive optimal care and do not experience negative health outcomes.

Nora Duncan, state director of AARP Connecticut, testified that this bill would support critical direct care staffing levels that, if not followed or met, could harm residents’ health and livelihood. She said the direct definition of “direct care” would better ensure and outline these needs.

State Long Term Care Ombudsman Mairead Painter testified that, having seen the direct impact staffing levels have on the quality of care and life of nursing home residents, the bill would ensure homes have enough staff members attending to residents’ immediate needs and promote more accurate assessments and fulfillment of resident care quality.

The bill passed the Public Health Committee with a 25-12 vote.

Senate Bill 275, “An Act Prohibiting Nursing Homes From Rejecting A Patient Solely On The Basis That Such Patient Received Mental Health Services,” would do what its title says. This would close a loophole where prospective residents could be denied the care they need because they have a history of receiving mental health services; when more than 50 million Americans received mental health treatment or counseling in 2022, that could lead to countless people being rejected from homes.

The bill received positive testimony including from Ombdusman Painter, who said the bill could prevent discrimination and stigma against individuals seeking mental health services and recognizes the importance of comprehensive care.

The bill passed the Public Health Committee with a unanimous 37-0 vote.

Both bills now move to the Senate floor for further consideration.