On June 28, 2023, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed Public Act No. 23-97, “An Act Concerning Health and Wellness for Connecticut Residents.”  The Act includes a wide range of provisions aimed at supporting health care workforce development and improving access to health care. Some of the provisions of the Act are summarized below.

Encouragement to Obtain Opioid Antagonist

Under current law, when practitioners prescribe a course of opioids longer than seven days (or five days for minors), they must discuss the risks associated with the opioid, including the risks of addiction and overdose, and the interactions the opioid may have with other substances. The Act adds to this requirement, directing practitioners to encourage patients to obtain an opioid antagonist when prescribing an opioid. For minor patients, the practitioner must also extend this encouragement to the patient’s parent or guardian, if they are present when the prescription is issued. Current law defines opioid antagonist as “naloxone hydrochloride or any other similarly acting and equally safe drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of drug overdose.”

This section of the Act is effective October 1, 2023.

Granting Hospital Practice Privileges

A new provision created by the Act prevents hospitals from requiring board eligible physicians to become board certified in order to be granted practice privileges until five years after the physician becomes board eligible.  The Act also prevents hospitals from requiring board certified physicians to provide credentials of board certification to be granted practice privileges.

This section of the Act is effective October 1, 2023.

Deadlines for Medical Records Requests

Another new provision in the Act establishes deadlines that Connecticut-licensed health care institutions (e.g., hospitals) must meet when a patient or a patient’s representative requests electronic copies of their medical records to be sent to another institution. If the request is urgent, the Act requires the transfer to occur as soon as is feasible, but no later than six days after the request is received. If the request is non-urgent, the transfer must occur within seven business days of the request. The Act does not define when requests are to be deemed “urgent.” The institution will not be required to get the patient’s written consent before making the transfer. Facilities operated by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the hospital and psychiatric residential treatment facility units of the Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center are exempt from this new requirement. The Act states that this new requirement does not obligate a health care institution to provide patient records: (1) if the transfer would violate HIPAA; (2) in response to a direct request from another provider unless that provider can verify a health provider relationship with the patient; or (3) in response to a third-party request.

This section of the Act is effective January 1, 2024.

Changes to APRN and Physical Therapist Licensure

The Act creates an additional avenue for the Department of Public Health (DPH) to grant advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) licenses. Under the Act, DPH may grant APRN licensure by endorsement to an individual who is not otherwise eligible to meet the APRN licensure but has practiced for at least three years in a state with substantially similar or more stringent APRN practice requirements. APRNs seeking licensure by endorsement must not have any history of disciplinary action against them or any unresolved complaints pending and must pay a fee of $200. The Act also permits APRNs who are issued licenses by endorsement to count out-of-state practice toward the requirement that newly licensed APRNs practice in collaboration with a physician for the APRN’s first three years of practice in the state, amounting to at least 2,000 hours.

The provisions of the Act concerning APRN licensure are effective October 1, 2023.

Lastly, under the Act, Connecticut joins the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact, which creates a process to authorize physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapy assistants (PTAs) to practice in other states that participate in the Compact without having to obtain separate licensure in each state. The Compact sets certain eligibility criteria for PTs and PTAs to practice under and obtain the benefits of the Compact, including that the PT/PTA must obtain and maintain licensure in the PT’s/PTA’s home state. If PTs and PTAs wish to practice under the Compact and they satisfy the Compact’s eligibility criteria, member states are required to grant the applicable PT or PTA the authority to practice in the state if they hold a valid, unencumbered license from another Compact member state.

The provisions of the Act concerning the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact became effective July 1, 2023.

For more information on other provisions of the Act that place limitations on certain non-compete agreements see the prior Health Law Diagnosis post titled Connecticut Legislature Passes Law Limiting Physician, PA and APRN Non-Compete Agreements.

*This post was co-authored by Ivy Miller, legal intern at Robinson+Cole. Ivy is not admitted to practice law.