CHAPTER 706b

OFFICE OF THE HEALTHCARE ADVOCATE

Table of Contents

Sec. 38a-1040. Definitions.

Sec. 38a-1041. Office of the Healthcare Advocate established. Duties.

Sec. 38a-1042. Appointment.

Sec. 38a-1043. Access to information.

Sec. 38a-1044. State agency information and assistance.

Sec. 38a-1045. Confidentiality of consumer identity.

Sec. 38a-1046. Employers required to post advocate services.

Sec. 38a-1047. Conflicts of interest.

Sec. 38a-1048. Acceptance of gifts and grants. Separate account established.

Sec. 38a-1049. Advisory committee established. Annual evaluation.

Sec. 38a-1050. Report required by advocate. Contents.

Sec. 38a-1051. Commission on Health Equity. Membership. Duties. Report to Governor and General Assembly.

Secs. 38a-1052 to 38a-1079. Reserved


Sec. 38a-1040. Definitions. As used in sections 38a-1040 to 38a-1050, inclusive:

(1) “Consumer” means an individual who receives or is attempting to receive services from a managed care organization and is a resident of this state.

(2) “Managed care organization” means an insurer, health care center, hospital or medical service corporation or other organization delivering, issuing for delivery, renewing or amending any individual or group health managed care plan in this state.

(3) “Managed care plan” means a product offered by a managed care organization that provides for the financing or delivery of health care services to persons enrolled in the plan through: (A) Arrangements with selected providers to furnish health care services; (B) explicit standards for the selection of participating providers; (C) financial incentives for enrollees to use the participating providers and procedures provided for by the plan; or (D) arrangements that share risks with providers, provided the organization offering a plan described under subparagraph (A), (B), (C) or (D) of this subdivision is licensed by the Insurance Department pursuant to chapter 698, 698a or 700 and that the plan includes utilization review, as defined in section 38a-591a.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 1; P.A. 11-58, S. 86.)

History: P.A. 11-58 replaced reference to Secs. 38a-226 to 38a-226d with “as defined in section 38a-591a” in Subdiv. (3), effective July 1, 2011.

Sec. 38a-1041. Office of the Healthcare Advocate established. Duties. (a) There is established an Office of the Healthcare Advocate which shall be within the Insurance Department for administrative purposes only.

(b) The Office of the Healthcare Advocate may:

(1) Assist health insurance consumers with managed care plan selection by providing information, referral and assistance to individuals about means of obtaining health insurance coverage and services;

(2) Assist health insurance consumers to understand their rights and responsibilities under managed care plans;

(3) Provide information to the public, agencies, legislators and others regarding problems and concerns of health insurance consumers and make recommendations for resolving those problems and concerns;

(4) Assist consumers with the filing of complaints and appeals, including filing appeals with a managed care organization’s internal appeal or grievance process and the external appeal process established under sections 38a-591d to 38a-591g, inclusive;

(5) Analyze and monitor the development and implementation of federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies relating to health insurance consumers and recommend changes it deems necessary;

(6) Facilitate public comment on laws, regulations and policies, including policies and actions of health insurers;

(7) Ensure that health insurance consumers have timely access to the services provided by the office;

(8) Review the health insurance records of a consumer who has provided written consent for such review;

(9) Create and make available to employers a notice, suitable for posting in the workplace, concerning the services that the Healthcare Advocate provides;

(10) Establish a toll-free number, or any other free calling option, to allow customer access to the services provided by the Healthcare Advocate;

(11) Pursue administrative remedies on behalf of and with the consent of any health insurance consumers;

(12) Adopt regulations, pursuant to chapter 54, to carry out the provisions of sections 38a-1040 to 38a-1050, inclusive; and

(13) Take any other actions necessary to fulfill the purposes of sections 38a-1040 to 38a-1050, inclusive.

(c) The Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall make a referral to the Insurance Commissioner if the Healthcare Advocate finds that a preferred provider network may have engaged in a pattern or practice that may be in violation of sections 38a-479aa to 38a-479gg, inclusive, or 38a-815 to 38a-819, inclusive.

(d) The Healthcare Advocate and the Insurance Commissioner shall jointly compile a list of complaints received against managed care organizations and preferred provider networks and the commissioner shall maintain the list, except the names of complainants shall not be disclosed if such disclosure would violate the provisions of section 4-61dd or 38a-1045.

(e) On or before October 1, 2005, the Managed Care Ombudsman shall establish a process to provide ongoing communication among mental health care providers, patients, state-wide and regional business organizations, managed care companies and other health insurers to assure: (1) Best practices in mental health treatment and recovery; (2) compliance with the provisions of sections 38a-476a, 38a-476b, 38a-488a and 38a-489; and (3) the relative costs and benefits of providing effective mental health care coverage to employees and their families. On or before January 1, 2006, and annually thereafter, the Healthcare Advocate shall report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, on the implementation of this subsection to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public health and insurance.

(f) On or before October 1, 2008, the Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall, within available appropriations, establish and maintain a healthcare consumer information web site on the Internet for use by the public in obtaining healthcare information, including but not limited to: (1) The availability of wellness programs in various regions of Connecticut, such as disease prevention and health promotion programs; (2) quality and experience data from hospitals licensed in this state; and (3) a link to the consumer report card developed and distributed by the Insurance Commissioner pursuant to section 38a-478l.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 2; P.A. 03-169, S. 8; P.A. 05-102, S. 8; 05-280, S. 89; P.A. 07-185, S. 22; P.A. 11-58, S. 87; 11-215, S. 11.)

History: P.A. 03-169 added Subsecs. (c) and (d) re referrals to commissioner re preferred provider networks and re list of complaints against managed care organizations and preferred provider networks, respectively; P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, and renamed the Managed Care Ombudsman the Healthcare Advocate; P.A. 05-280 added new Subsec. (e) re establishment by Managed Care Ombudsman of process for communication among mental health care providers and others, effective July 13, 2005 (Revisor’s note: Pursuant to P.A. 05-102 a reference to “Managed Care Ombudsman” in provision re reports was changed editorially by the Revisors to “Healthcare Advocate”); P.A. 07-185 added Subsec. (f) requiring Office of the Healthcare Advocate to establish and maintain, within available appropriations, a healthcare consumer information website on the Internet; P.A. 11-58 amended Subsec. (b)(4) by replacing reference to Sec. 38a-478n with “sections 38a-591d to 38a-591g, inclusive” and amended Subsec. (c) by deleting reference to Secs. 38a-226 to 38a-226d, effective July 1, 2011; P.A. 11-215 amended Subsec. (e) by deleting requirement that Managed Care Ombudsman consult with Community Mental Health Strategy Board.

See Sec. 4-38f for definition of “administrative purposes only”.

Sec. 38a-1042. Appointment. (a) The Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall be under the direction of the Healthcare Advocate who shall be appointed by the Governor, with the approval of the General Assembly. The Healthcare Advocate shall be an elector of the state with expertise and experience in the fields of health care, health insurance and advocacy for the rights of consumers, provided the Healthcare Advocate shall not have served as a director or officer of a managed care organization within two years of appointment. In addition to the Healthcare Advocate, the Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall consist of a staff of not more than three persons, which staff may be increased as the requirements and resources of the office permit.

(b) The Governor shall make the initial appointment of the Healthcare Advocate from a list of candidates prepared and submitted, not later than June 1, 2000, to the Governor by the advisory committee established pursuant to section 38a-1049. The Governor shall notify the advisory committee of the pending expiration of the term of an incumbent Healthcare Advocate not less than ninety days prior to the final day of the Healthcare Advocate’s term in office. If a vacancy occurs in the position of Healthcare Advocate, the Governor shall notify the advisory committee immediately of the vacancy. The advisory committee shall meet to consider qualified candidates for the position of Healthcare Advocate and shall submit a list of not more than five candidates to the Governor ranked in order of preference, not more than sixty days after receiving notice from the Governor of the pending expiration of the Healthcare Advocate’s term or the occurrence of a vacancy. The Governor shall designate, not more than sixty days after receipt of the list of candidates from the advisory committee, one candidate from the list for the position of Healthcare Advocate. If, after the list is submitted to the Governor by the advisory committee, any candidate withdraws from consideration, the Governor shall designate a candidate from those remaining on the list. If the Governor fails to designate a candidate within sixty days of receipt of the list from the advisory committee, the advisory committee shall refer the candidate with the highest ranking on the list to the General Assembly for confirmation. If the General Assembly is not in session at the time of the Governor’s or advisory committee’s designation of a candidate, the candidate shall serve as the acting Healthcare Advocate until the General Assembly meets and confirms the candidate as Healthcare Advocate. A candidate serving as acting Healthcare Advocate is entitled to compensation and has all the powers, duties and privileges of the Healthcare Advocate. A Healthcare Advocate shall serve a term of four years, not including any time served as acting Healthcare Advocate, and may be reappointed by the Governor or shall remain in the position until a successor is confirmed. Although an incumbent Healthcare Advocate may be reappointed, the Governor shall also consider additional candidates from a list submitted by the advisory committee as provided in this section.

(c) Upon a vacancy in the position of the Healthcare Advocate, the most senior attorney in the Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall serve as the acting Healthcare Advocate until the vacancy is filled pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of this section. The acting Healthcare Advocate has all the powers, duties and privileges of the Healthcare Advocate.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 3; P.A. 05-102, S. 9.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and made conforming changes.

Sec. 38a-1043. Access to information. (a) Each managed care organization shall, when presented with the written consent of the consumer or the consumer’s guardian or legal representative, provide to the Office of the Healthcare Advocate access to records relating to such consumer.

(b) Any records provided pursuant to this section to the Office of the Healthcare Advocate shall be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, as defined in section 1-200.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 4; P.A. 05-102, S. 10.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

Sec. 38a-1044. State agency information and assistance. All state agencies shall comply with reasonable requests of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate for information and assistance.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 5; P.A. 05-102, S. 11.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

Sec. 38a-1045. Confidentiality of consumer identity. In the absence of the written consent of a consumer utilizing the services of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate or such consumer’s guardian or legal representative or of a court order, the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, its employees and agents, shall not disclose the identity of the consumer.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 6; P.A. 05-102, S. 12.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

Sec. 38a-1046. Employers required to post advocate services. Each employer, other than a self-insured employer, that provides health insurance benefits to employees shall obtain from the Healthcare Advocate and post, in a conspicuous location, a notice concerning the services that the Healthcare Advocate provides.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 7; P.A. 05-102, S. 13.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Managed Care Ombudsman the Healthcare Advocate.

Sec. 38a-1047. Conflicts of interest. (a) No Healthcare Advocate or person employed by the Office of the Healthcare Advocate may:

(1) Have a direct involvement in the licensing, certification or accreditation of a managed care organization;

(2) Have a direct ownership or investment interest in a managed care organization;

(3) Be employed by or participate in the management of a managed care organization; or

(4) Receive or have the right to receive, directly or indirectly, remuneration under a compensation arrangement with a managed care organization.

(b) No Healthcare Advocate or person employed by the Office of the Healthcare Advocate may knowingly accept employment with a managed care organization for a period of one year following termination of that person’s services with the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 8; P.A. 05-102, S. 14.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of the Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and made conforming changes.

Sec. 38a-1048. Acceptance of gifts and grants. Separate account established. (a) The Office of the Healthcare Advocate may apply for and accept grants, gifts and bequests of funds from other states, federal and interstate agencies and independent authorities and private firms, individuals and foundations, for the purpose of carrying out its responsibilities.

(b) There is established within the General Fund a Healthcare Advocate account that shall be a separate nonlapsing account. Any funds received under this section shall, upon deposit in the General Fund, be credited to said account and may be used by the Office of the Healthcare Advocate in the performance of its duties.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 9; P.A. 05-102, S. 15.)

History: P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and made conforming changes.

Sec. 38a-1049. Advisory committee established. Annual evaluation. (a) There is established an advisory committee to the Office of the Healthcare Advocate which shall meet four times a year with the Healthcare Advocate and the staff of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate to review and assess the performance of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate. The advisory committee shall consist of six members appointed one each by the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, the majority leader of the Senate, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the Senate and the minority leader of the House of Representatives. Each member of the advisory committee shall serve a term of five years and may be reappointed at the conclusion of that term. All initial appointments to the advisory committee shall be made not later than March 1, 2000.

(b) The advisory committee shall make an annual evaluation of the effectiveness of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and shall submit the evaluation to the Governor and the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public health and insurance not later than April first of each year commencing February 1, 2001.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 10; P.A. 05-15, S. 1; 05-102, S. 16; P.A. 10-32, S. 124.)

History: P.A. 05-15 amended Subsec. (b) to substitute “April first” for “February first”; P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and made conforming changes; P.A. 10-32 made technical changes, effective May 10, 2010.

Sec. 38a-1050. Report required by advocate. Contents. The Healthcare Advocate shall submit, not later than March first of each year, a report to the Governor and the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to public health and insurance concerning the activities of the Healthcare Advocate. The report shall include, but not be limited to, information regarding: (1) The subject matter, disposition and number of consumer complaints processed by the Healthcare Advocate; (2) common problems and concerns discerned by the Healthcare Advocate from the consumer complaints and other relevant sources; (3) the need, if any, for administrative, legislative or executive remedies to assist consumers; and (4) the fiscal accounts of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate.

(P.A. 99-284, S. 11; P.A. 05-15, S. 2; 05-102, S. 17.)

History: P.A. 05-15 substituted “March first” for “January first” re reports; P.A. 05-102 renamed the Office of Managed Care Ombudsman the Office of the Healthcare Advocate and made conforming changes.

Sec. 38a-1051. Commission on Health Equity. Membership. Duties. Report to Governor and General Assembly. (a) Whereas the General Assembly finds that: (1) Equal enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a human right and a priority of the state, (2) research and experience demonstrate that inhabitants of the state experience barriers to the equal enjoyment of good health based on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin and linguistic ability, and (3) addressing such barriers, and others that may arise in the future, requires: The collection, analysis and reporting of information, the identification of causes, and the development and implementation of policy solutions that address health disparities while improving the health of the public as a whole therefore, there is established a Commission on Health Equity with the mission of eliminating disparities in health status based on race, ethnicity, gender and linguistic ability, and improving the quality of health for all of the state’s residents. Such commission shall consist of the following commissioners, or their designees, and public members: (A) The Commissioners of Public Health, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Developmental Services, Social Services, Correction, Children and Families, and Education; (B) the dean of The University of Connecticut Health Center, or his designee; (C) the director of The University of Connecticut Health Center and Center for Public Health and Health Policy, or their designees; (D) the dean of the Yale University Medical School, or his designee; (E) the dean of Public Health and the School of Epidemiology at Yale University, or his designee; (F) one member appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate, who shall be a member of an affiliate of the National Urban League; (G) one member appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall be a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; (H) one member appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a member of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus of the General Assembly; (I) one member appointed by the majority leader of the Senate with the advice of the Native American Heritage Advisory Council or the chairperson of the Indian Affairs Council, who shall be a representative of the Native American community; (J) one member appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, who shall be a representative of an advocacy group for Hispanics; (K) one member appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall be a representative of the state-wide Multicultural Health Network; (L) the chairperson of the African-American Affairs Commission, or his or her designee; (M) the chairperson of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, or his or her designee; (N) the chairperson of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, or his or her designee; (O) the chairperson of the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, or his or her designee; (P) the director of the Hispanic Health Council, or his or her designee; (Q) the chairperson of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, or his or her designee; and (R) eight members of the public, representing communities facing disparities in health status based on race, ethnicity, gender and linguistic ability, who shall be appointed as follows: Two by the president pro tempore of the Senate, two by the speaker of the House of Representatives, two by the minority leader of the Senate, and two by the minority leader of the House of Representatives. Vacancies on the council shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(b) The commission shall elect a chairperson and a vice-chairperson from among its members. Any member absent from either: (1) Three consecutive meetings of the commission, or (2) fifty per cent of such meetings during any calendar year, shall be deemed to have resigned from the commission.

(c) Members of the commission shall serve without compensation, but within available appropriations, and shall be reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties.

(d) The commission shall meet as often as necessary as determined by the chairperson or a majority of the commission, but not less than at least once per calendar quarter.

(e) The commission shall: (1) Review and comment on any proposed state legislation and regulations that would affect the health of populations in the state experiencing racial, ethnic, cultural or linguistic disparities in health status, (2) review and comment on the Department of Public Health’s health disparities performance measures, (3) advise and provide information to the Governor and the General Assembly on the state’s policies concerning the health of populations in the state experiencing racial, ethnic, cultural or linguistic disparities in health status, (4) work as a liaison between populations experiencing racial, ethnic, cultural or linguistic disparities in health status and state agencies in order to eliminate such health disparities, (5) evaluate policies, procedures, activities and resource allocations to eliminate health status disparities among racial, ethnic and linguistic populations in the state and have the authority to convene the directors and commissioners of all state agencies whose purview is relevant to the elimination of health disparities, including but not limited to, the Departments of Public Health, Social Services, Children and Families, Developmental Services, Education, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Labor, Transportation, and the Housing Finance Authority for the purpose of advising on and directing the implementation of policies, procedures, activities and resource allocations to eliminate health status disparities among racial, ethnic and linguistic populations in the state, (6) prepare and submit to the Governor and General Assembly an annual report, in accordance with section 11-4a, that provides both a retrospective and prospective view of health disparities and the state’s efforts to ameliorate identifiable disparities among populations of the state experiencing racial, ethnic, cultural or linguistic disparities in health status, (7) explore other successful programs in other sectors and states, and pilot and provide grants for new creative programs that may diminish or contribute to the elimination of health disparities in the state and culturally appropriate health education demonstration projects, for which the commission may apply for, accept and expand public and private funding, (8) have the authority to collect and analyze government and other data regarding the health status of state inhabitants based on race, ethnicity, gender, national origin and linguistic ability, including access, services and outcomes in private and public health care institutions within the state, including, but not limited to, the data collected by the Connecticut Health Information Network, (9) have the authority to draft and recommend proposed legislation, regulations and other policies designed to address disparities in health status, and (10) have the authority to conduct hearings and interviews, and receive testimony, regarding matters pertinent to its mission.

(f) The commission may use such funds as may be available from federal, state or other sources, and may enter into contracts to carry out the provisions of this section.

(g) The commission may, within available appropriations and subject to the provisions of chapter 67, employ any necessary staff.

(h) The commission shall be within the Office of the Healthcare Advocate for administrative purposes only.

(i) The commission shall report to the Governor and the General Assembly on its findings not later than June 1, 2010.

(j) The commission shall make a determination as to whether the duties of the commission are duplicated by any other state agency, office, bureau or commission and shall include information concerning any such duplication or performance of similar duties by any other state agency, office, bureau or commission in the report described in subsection (i) of this section.

(P.A. 08-171, S. 1; P.A. 09-232, S. 9; Sept. Sp. Sess. P.A. 09-3, S. 38.)

History: P.A. 08-171 effective June 12, 2008; P.A. 09-232 amended Subsecs. (a) and (e) by adding “gender” as a factor re disparities in health status, effective July 8, 2009; Sept. Sp. Sess. P.A. 09-3 amended Subsec. (e)(5) by deleting reference to Office of Health Care Access, effective October 6, 2009.

See Sec. 4-38f for definition of “administrative purposes only”.

Secs. 38a-1052 to 38a-1079. Reserved for future use.