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New state laws are taking effect Tuesday

January 1, 2019

There are 17 state laws taking effect on Jan. 1, with several setting requirements for health insurance coverage, and others addressing domestic violence arrests, pay equity and crumbling foundations.

Here is a summary of some of the new laws:

10 “essential health benefits” are codified

Fearing changes to the Affordable Care Act, legislators wanted to ensure that current ACA benefits are codified into state law.

They laid out coverage requirements in 10 categories: ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn health care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventative services and chronic disease management, and pediatric services.

Specifically, the law requires insurance coverage of anemia, hepatitis B, rhesus, syphilis and urinary tract infection screening for any pregnant woman. It requires coverage of screening for certain sexually transmitted infections for any sexually active woman.

It also mandates coverage for contraceptive drugs, FDA-approved sterilization methods, and immunizations recommended by certain pediatrics and obstetrics organizations.

“I think it’s so important that we codify these areas of the ACA, so that families can get the care they need,” said Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, who introduced the bill and was vocal about it in her successful campaign for re-election.

Pregnancy is authorized as a qualifying event for special enrollment periods

Another health care law states that each individual health insurance policy subject to the ACA provides special enrollment periods to pregnant women.

This is to be within 30 days of the commencement of pregnancy, as certified by a licensed health care provider.

Prosthetic devices covered

Individual and group health insurance policies are required to “provide coverage for prosthetic devices that is at least equivalent to that provided under Medicare.” Coverage can be limited to what a provider determines is “most appropriate to meet the medical needs.”

Policies must also provide coverage for the medically necessary replacement of a device, unless “necessitated by misuse or loss.”

Drug wholesalers required to report suspicious orders

A new law requires all registered drug manufacturers or wholesalers to immediately inform the director of the Drug Control Division of suspicious orders of controlled substances. This might include an order that is unusually large or at an unusual frequency.

The law also directs a record of all stocks of controlled substances to be prepared annually rather than biennially.

Employers can’t inquire about a prospective employee’s salary history

An Act Concerning Pay Equity prohibits employers from asking — or directing a third party to ask — “about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history unless a prospective employee has voluntarily disclosed such information.”

Exceptions are made where a federal or state law specifically authorizes the disclosure of salary history.

The rationale behind the bill was that relying on salary history will allow unequal pay for women to continue, as women have historically been paid less than men.

Police discouraged from making dual arrests in domestic violence incidents

To Karen Jarmoc, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, it’s disconcerting that both parties in a domestic violence incident get arrested 20 percent of the time in Connecticut, whereas that figure hovers around 3 to 7 percent in other states.

CCADV worked on a committee with staff from the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and State’s Attorney’s Office to change that.

The new law states that a police officer shall evaluate each complaint to determine who is the dominant aggressor, or person who “poses the most serious ongoing threat,” and arrest that person. The law discourages but does not prohibit dual arrests.

Police Academy Administrator Thomas Flaherty said Assistant State’s Attorney Patrice Palumbo conducted two training sessions at the Academy in December, and the general notice on the act was sent to every police chief and training officer in the state.

Jarmoc hopes to get data in August or September to track intimate partner violence arrests from the first six months of 2019, to measure dual arrest rates.

New insurance surcharge will help structurally damaged homes, lead abatement

For certain homeowners insurance policies issued or renewed between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019, there will be a $12 surcharge, and insurers shall remit all surcharges to the insurance commissioner by April 30 each year.

Except for the amount to pay an administrative officer in the insurance department, all collections will be deposited in the newly created Healthy Homes Fund.

Some of that fund will be used for grants for structurally damaged homes, which will go to homeowners residing around West River or the Yale Golf Course in the Westville section of New Haven. Foundations of homes in those areas were damaged by “gradual settling or sudden sinking of land.”

The fund will also be used for lead removal, remediation and abatement.

e.moser@theday.com

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