Capitol briefs

Support sought for investing in long-term care insurance

State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) and advocates call on Congress to offer an “above-the-line” federal tax deduction for those who invest in long-term care insurance this week. –CONTRIBUTED

State Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) and advocates call on Congress to offer an “above-the-line” federal tax deduction for those who invest in long-term care insurance this week. –CONTRIBUTED

HARTFORD — Leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee announced this that they are seeking support from fellow legislators to establish an income tax deduction for individuals who invest in long-term care insurance.

The lawmakers are also asking for federal support in the form of a nationwide “above-the-line” tax deduction on long-term care insurance premiums, according to a press release. Currently, individuals can claim a deduction on their federal income taxes for the costs of long-term care, but only if they itemize their deduction.

A letter sent this week by four legislators, including state Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17), to the Connecticut Congressional Delegation asked them to work towards passage of a federal tax deduction for long-term care insurance premiums.

These efforts are focused on encouraging individuals to invest in long-term care insurance, which would provide relief for the state’s growing burden of Medicaid-funded nursing home care, the release stated.

“This is a commonsense approach to relieving one of the heaviest burdens on our state budget,” said Crisco in the release. “Just as we in state government need to focus on long-term investments that will pay dividends for Connecticut for years to come, our constituents need to make similar investments so they can live healthy, independent lives as they age. The benefits of independent living are indisputable. People are happier when they are able to age in their own communities, and stay connected to their friends, neighbors and surroundings. This would be a good step toward promoting investment in long-term care insurance, and I encourage Congress to take action.”

In 2012, the state spent $2.8 billion, or 10 percent of the annual state budget, on long-term care for seniors, the release stated. Currently, 14 percent of the population is over 65 years old. By 2032, the senior population is expected to increase by nearly 69 percent, making nearly one quarter of the population over 65 years old, the release stated.

Bill criminalizes false representation of military service

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill last week that defines the crime of falsely representing oneself as having served in the military or earned a service medal in order to fraudulently obtain money, property or other goods or services. 

“Pretending to have served honorably in the United States military is a cowardly act that disrespects the people who actually wore the uniform,” said state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89) in a press release. “But faking it to prop up a fraudulent scheme is even worse, and it’s behavior that deserves punishment.”

The legislation (H.B. 5293) is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Alvarez, which stated the federal military medal misrepresentation statute was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s First Amendment right to free speech. The plurality opinion stated there is no general First Amendment exception for false statements, but acknowledged there are many laws punishing or criminalizing false statements that cause definite and identifiable harm through fraud, the release stated.

The bill was sent to the Senate for further action.

Bill eliminates statute of limitations in fatal hit-and-run accidents

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives has voted to abolish the statute of limitations for hit and run motor vehicle crashes that cause a death.

“Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege and holding irresponsible drivers accountable for their actions behind the wheel, especially when those actions kill innocent victims, is the right thing to do,” state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) said in a press release. “Unfortunately, this legislation won’t be able to restore families who have been shattered by horrific accidents, but it does allow the justice system the proper time to deliver adequate punishment, even if years have passed.”

The bill (H.B.5592), which passed the House with a unanimous vote, was amended during debate on the House floor, according to the release.

The amended bill eliminates the statute of limitations in motor vehicle cases in which someone is killed and the responsible driver fled the scene.

“Under no circumstances should a perpetrator be allowed to simply wait out the clock—to live in the shadows with a dark secret to avoid prosecution,” state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89) said in a press release. “This proposal works toward way toward making certain perpetrators have to face the law no matter when they’re identified.”

The bill was sent to the Senate.

Legislation allows APRNs to practice independently

HARTFORD — Legislation that will allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to practice independently has passed the House and Senate.

This bill allows APRNs who have been licensed and practicing in collaboration with a physician for at least three years to practice independently, according to a press release issued by state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105). Current law requires APRNs to work in collaboration with a physician, including having a written agreement regarding the APRN’s prescriptive authority.

“APRNs are trained and qualified to treat patients,” said Conroy, an APRN, in a press release. “Lifting the stifling oversight requirement would allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their rigorous education and would increase health care access for patients — especially for residents in areas underserved by primary care doctors.”

According to a 2014 state Department of Public Health study, evidence from the 20 states where APRNs currently practice independently has demonstrated that the removal of the physician collaboration creates an environment in which APRNs are able to expand current practice and explore other options for delivering primary care services, the release stated.

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