CT Governor Signs Orders Regarding Waivers for Healthcare Providers Related to COVID-19, Restricting Surprise Bills for Out-of-Network Services and Uninsured COVID-19, and Extending Permits and Pre-Licensure for Health Care Professionals
On April 5, 2020 and April 7, 2020, Governor Lamont signed two executive orders, Executive Order 7U (“EO 7U”) and Executive Order 7V (“EO 7V”) that (i) protects health care professionals from civil liability related to health care services related to COVID-19; (ii) restricts surprise bills from out-of-network providers and for uninsured patients; (iii) implements additional workplace measures around safety for COVID-19; (iv) waives fees and extends temporary practice permits for certain health care professionals, and (v) allows certain health care professionals to practice prior to licensure during the public health emergency. The orders are effective for the duration of Connecticut’s public health emergency, declared on March 10, 2020 unless otherwise stated below.
Civil Immunity Waiver for Providers Related to COVID-19 Health Services
EO 7V supersedes EO 7U and protects health care professionals and health care facilities from civil liability related to acts or omissions when rendering health care services in connection with COVID-19. Health care professionals include any individual who is licensed in any state to provide health care services and any retired professional, and any professional with an inactive license or volunteer approved by the State Commissioner of Public Health. Health care facility includes any state approved hospital, clinic, nursing home, field hospital or other facility designated by the Department of Health for temporary use.
The order provides civil immunity to health care professionals and facilities that act in good faith act while providing COVID-19 related health care services during the public health emergency. However, health care professionals and facilities are not immune from activities that constitute a crime, fraud, malice, gross negligence, willful misconduct or other conduct prohibited act under the Connecticut and Federal False Claims Act.
Surprise Billing for Out-of-Network Services and COVID-19 Services to Uninsured Patients
Effective April 5, 2020 through the duration of the public health emergency, an out-of-network provider who renders emergency services to an insured patient may bill the insured’s health carrier directly and health carriers shall reimburse the out-of-network provider as if the services were provided by an in-network provider. EO 7U suspends the Connecticut statute allowing health carriers and out-of-network providers to agree to a greater reimbursement amount than in-network providers receive, effectively requiring out-of-network providers to accept the in-network reimbursement rate.
Also under EO 7U, hospitals, health systems and hospital-based facilities are prohibited from collecting from an uninsured patient an amount greater than the Medicare rate for services related to the treatment of COVID-19. This rule remains in place unless and until there is an executive order calling for federal funds to cover uninsured patient’s costs related to COVID-19. Hospitals, health systems and hospital-based facilities are required to maintain fiscal records of services provided to uninsured patients for COVID-19 treatment.
EO7V: Protective Workplace Measures, Temporary Permit Extension and Fees Waived, and Practice Permitted Prior to Licensure for Certain Health Care Professionals
EO 7V calls for mandatory rules around additional workplace protective measures. These legally binding rules, issued by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, can be found here.
Also under EO 7V, the application fees for temporary practice permits are waived and temporary practice permits are extended to the duration of the public health emergency for athletic trainers, respiratory care practitioners, physician assistances, occupational therapists and assistants, and master social workers.
Finally, EO 7V permits physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, radiographers, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, marital and family therapy associates and professional counselor associates to practice prior to licensure for the duration of the public health emergency.
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