From the Capitol / State Sen. Bob Duff
New Laws touch on oral chemo, motorcycle licensing, do not call violators
Published 2:25 pm, Thursday, January 13, 2011
The turning of a new year brings with it the start of new laws for the State of Connecticut. While several new, technical laws affecting various parts of state government took effect on January 1, 2011, three new laws will specifically affect people in Norwalk and Darien and around the state.
First, the state has changed the way insurance companies can charge for chemotherapy treatment. Last year, it came to light that insurers were covering intravenous chemotherapy treatments administered at clinics through health plans, but were covering chemotherapy administered in pill form under prescription drug plans.
This practice allowed insurers to transfer some costs -- as much as $1,000 or more per month in some cases -- to patients, regardless of whether a doctor had determined that oral treatment was the preferred method. This led to cancer patients being unable to afford their chemotherapy treatments, causing many to put expense as a leading concern in their treatment plan instead of what's best for their health.
The law that took effect on Jan. 1 requires health insurance policies that cover intravenous and oral anticancer medications prescribed by a licensed practitioner to cover the oral treatment on a favorable basis as intravenous, meaning with comparable co-pays or similar deductibles -- effectively ending this incredibly unfair practice.
Next, Connecticut's new motorcycle training requirement is now in effect. All applicants for a motorcycle license must now provide proof that they have successfully completed a novice motorcycle training course. Previously, the requirement only applied to applicants under the age of 18.
The requirement stemmed from the efforts of an East Hartford mother, who lost her 19-year-old son after a tragic motorcycle accident. The boy had not taken a motorcycle safety course, despite his mother's insistence.
A third new law adds an additional penalty to those who violate the state's Do Not Call law. Do Not Call prohibits unsolicited marketing, sales and other telephone calls to those who have registered their phone numbers. Connecticut was the first state in the country to create a Do Not Call list; the federal government followed our lead and created a national list in 2003.
The list applies to calls made to engage in a marketing or sales solicitation, to solicit a credit extension for goods or services or to obtain information to use in the solicitation os a sale or credit extension. The law does not apply to calls made or sent with the consumer's prior express written or verbal permission or in response to a consumer's visit to a seller's establishment or calls primarily in connection with an existing debt or contract that has not been paid or performed. It also does not apply to calls made by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization or to political calls.
Despite the prohibitions, some companies have continued to call numbers registered on the list. This year, the legislature created an additional penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation.
Previously, the state Department of Consumer Protection could impose a cease-and-desist order if there's a violation, and if the company failed to comply, the agency could assess civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each willful violation.
Currently, 1.2 million Connecticut consumers are registered on the Do Not Call list. For more information, or to register a number with the list, visit www.donotcall.gov.