Governor Vows to Veto GOP Budget, Invites Both Sides to Talk

Governor Dannel Malloy has vowed to veto the Republican budget approved by both the House and Senate last week, but has reached out to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the hopes of holding bipartisan budget negotiations.

Lawmakers are under pressure to find a solution to Connecticut’s budget crisis before October 1, which is when the Governor’s executive order cutting state spending and reducing aid to cities and towns goes into effect in the absence of a budget.

The Republican budget, HB 7501, An Act Providing For The Continued Operation Of Essential Functions Of The State, was approved by the state Senate on September 15 after three moderate Democratic Senators voted with the 18-member GOP Senate caucus to pass their FY 2018-2019 biennium budget.  The budget was approved in the Senate on a vote of 21-15.  The three Democratic Senators voting with the GOP were Sen. Paul Doyle (D-Wethersfield), Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford), and Joan Hartley (D-Waterbury).

The GOP budget then went to the House of Representatives in the early morning hours of September 16, where it was approved on a 77-73 vote, with six Democrats voting with the Republicans.  House Democrats joining Republicans in voting for the budget were: Pat Boyd (D-Pomfret), John Hampton (D-Simsbury), Lonnie Reed (D-Branford), Kim Rose (D-Milford), and Dan Rovero (D- Killingly).

Governor Malloy said he intends to veto the Republican budget for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it underfunds the state’s obligation to the employee pension system.  He has also expressed concern about proposed cuts to the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University System.  UConn President Susan Herbst said this week that, according to their analysis, the university and UConn Health Center would lose $308 million over two years if the Republican budget is adopted.

The agreement negotiated between hospitals and the state is included in both the GOP and Democratic budgets.  The agreement reached between hospitals and the state will provide much-needed funding to care for Connecticut Medicaid patients and help preserve critical healthcare jobs.  Specifically, the agreement would leverage and maximize federal funding at no cost to the state or taxpayers.  Hospitals would receive statutory assurances that the state would ensure that they receive funds.  At the end of the biennium, the hospital tax would be reduced. 


New GOP Plan to Repeal ACA Would Cost Connecticut Billions

A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that Connecticut would lose more than $4 billion a year in federal funding, beginning in 2027, if the latest iteration of a Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law.

The plan, which was proposed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, would cut billions from the Medicaid program by changing the program to a block grant format.  Connecticut, along with other states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, stand to lose the most if the GOP plan is approved.

Connecticut lawmakers, including Governor Dannel Malloy and U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have denounced the latest effort by Republicans to repeal the ACA.

“Congress is playing with fire by pushing an unvetted plan that could destroy state budgets and hike premiums for millions of Americans,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a joint statement with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released by the Democratic Governors Association, of which he is Chairman.  “The Graham-Cassidy proposal is a multi-billion-dollar cost-shift to states.”

Also opposed to the plan are the American Hospital Association and a slew of other medical associations.

“We believe that coverage could be at risk for tens of millions of Americans under the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack.  “We continue to urge senators to work in a bipartisan manner to address the challenges facing our healthcare system.  This proposal would erode key protections for patients and consumers and does nothing to stabilize the insurance market now or in the long term.  In addition, the block grant to provide support for the expansion population expires in 2026, thereby eliminating coverage for millions of Americans.  For these reasons, we oppose the Graham-Cassidy plan.” 


Department of Public Health Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus for 2017 Season

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting that the first human case of the West Nile Virus (WNV) in Connecticut this season is a New Haven resident who has tested positive for the virus.

The patient, who is between 50-59 years of age, became ill during the last week of August and was hospitalized with a high fever, dehydration, and confusion.  Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of antibodies to WNV in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid.

“The identification of a Connecticut resident with West Nile virus-associated illness that required hospitalization underscores the potential seriousness of the infection,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino, MD.  “Using insect repellent, covering bare skin and avoiding being outdoors during the hours of dusk and dawn are effective ways to help keep you from being bitten by mosquitoes.”

West Nile virus has been detected in the state every year since 1999.  During 2017, WNV has been detected in mosquitoes collected at trap sites in 26 towns including: Branford, Bridgeport, Darien, Farmington, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Groton, Guilford, Middlefield, Milford, New Canaan, New Haven, North Branford, North Stonington, Norwalk, Orange, Plainfield, Redding, Shelton, South Windsor, Stamford, Stratford, Voluntown, West Hartford, West Haven and Westport.  Mosquito trapping and testing began on June 5, with the first positive mosquitoes identified on June 29 in West Haven.

Exposure to mosquitoes and the risk of acquiring WNV infection varies by season and geographic region.  In Connecticut, the risk is highest during August and September, and typically subsides in October as mosquitos die off due to lower temperatures.


Tiffany Christensen to Provide Keynote Address at Nurse Leadership Forum

Tiffany Christensen, a nationally recognized speaker and the author of three books exploring advocacy, end-of-life planning, and partnership strategies in healthcare, will present the keynote session of the 2017 Nurse Leadership Forum, which will be held on Thursday, October 12, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.  Ms. Christensen is a Board member of the Beryl Institute, and is faculty for the Patient Safety Officer Training at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. 

Additionally, Colleen Sweeney, creator of the Patient Empathy Project (TM), will present a session on “What Patients Fear and Why We Have to Know.”  The Forum will also include a session with Meryl Moss, MPA, EMHL, Chief Operating Officer of Coastal Medical in Rhode Island, regarding the healthcare systems’ transformation to a patient-centered care organization focused on population health.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.  Registration and breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m.

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Education Updates

HIPAA Privacy, Security & Breach Rules: Keeping Current to Remain Compliant
Friday, October 13, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
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This program will review the current HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules, with an emphasis on patient access rights and significantly increased enforcement activities by the Office for Civil Rights since 2016, which is and expected to continue.  The program information includes strategies for maintaining continuous compliance, a discussion of necessary policies and procedures, and practical tips and solutions to address real-life situations.  Emerging issues in cyber security, devices and technology issues, social media considerations, and the growing risks for HIPAA-covered entities and business associates will also be discussed.

Continuing education credits will be provided.  Please see the brochure for details.


HRO Leadership Method Training
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Event Registration

Leadership Method Training is for organizations that are new to high reliability or for new management employees in organizations that are already on the high reliability journey.  Both hospital and ambulatory organization leadership practices will be addressed.  The leadership session is designed to teach hospital or ambulatory leaders the concepts of high reliability science and behaviors.  The sessions are structured for leaders at the manager level and above. 

Medical, Nursing, Quality, and Radiology continuing education credits are offered for this session.  

HRO Worker Safety and Worker Engagement
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
Event Registration

One priority endorsed by the Committee on Patient Care Quality is worker safety.  This includes workplace violence and worker engagement.  This curriculum teaches the hospitals how to incorporate worker safety into the high reliability activity and help contribute to the sustainability model.  

Medical, Nursing, and Quality continuing education credits are offered for these sessions.

HRO Rounding to Influence
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
1:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Event Registration

The program teaches leaders how to go out on the units to coach, mentor, and sustain high reliability habits and practices by interacting with front-line staff and medical staff. 

Medical, Nursing, and Quality continuing education credits are offered for this session.

HRO Safety Event Classification
Thursday, October 19, 2017
9:00 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.
Event Registration

When events occur in the hospital or ambulatory practice, they must be evaluated to assess whether the event is a Serious Safety Event, a Precursor Safety Event, or a Near Miss Safety Event.  This session will review how the classification scheme works and how to utilize and standardize event classification.

Medical, Nursing, and Quality continuing education credits are offered for this session.