Sen. Kelly’s Proposals to Protect Vulnerable Populations Advance in the State Senate

April 27, 2022

Proposals to protect elderly from crime, support spouses of nursing home residents, and connect vulnerable individuals to social services in hospitals advance in Senate.


HARTFORD – Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) applauded the State Senate’s recent passage of three bills he proposed to help seniors and vulnerable populations.


The bills will protect elderly residents from crime by holding offenders accountable, connect vulnerable individuals to social services in hospitals, and support spouses of nursing home residents.



Protecting Seniors from Crime


Senate Bill 461 An Act Concerning the Statute of Limitations for Crimes Committed Against the Elderly will ensure that that statute of limitations for crimes against the elderly begin five years from the discovery of the offense, rather than when the offense was committed.


“Sadly, many crimes committed against the elderly involve financial exploitation and abuse, which can be committed by a trusted individual. Such crimes may not be discovered for months or years. This bill helps ensure that those who commit crimes against seniors are held accountable and cannot escape investigation and justice based on when their crime was discovered,” said Sen. Kelly.



Connecting Vulnerable Individuals to Social Services in Hospitals


Senate Bill 331 An Act Concerning the Provision of Developmental Services and Mental and Behavioral Health Services permits the Department of Social Services commissioner to contract with a hospital or nonprofit organization to provide social services and referrals to frequent users of hospitals services.


“This proposal aims to better connect vulnerable individuals with important wrap around services,” said Sen. Kelly. “This enables hospitals to connect patients with social workers to access needed social services to improve health outcomes. For example, when an individual frequents an emergency room for medical care, because they could not afford insulin, a social worker could work with that individual to find financial resources such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), energy assistance, or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to help them afford the medicine they need to stay healthy.”



Supporting Spouses of Nursing Home Residents


Senate Bill 173 An Act Concerning a Study of the Cost and Feasibility of Permitting the Community Spouse of an Institutionalized Medicaid Recipient to Retain the Maximum Amount of Allowable Assets is the first step in reversing years of harmful policy that hampered community spouses’ ability to age in place while their partner is in a nursing home facility. The bill initiates a study of permitting the “community spouse” of an institutionalized Medicaid recipient to maintain the maximum amount of allowable assets. This bolsters an important safeguard that promotes independent living and aging in place.


When a married individual moves into a nursing home, their spouse who remains at home (the “community spouse”) must “spend down” their assets to a set amount before the institutionalized spouse can become eligible for Medicaid. When this “spend down” happens, the community spouse loses their personal savings, leaving them ill equipped to address future needs and issues. Allowing community spouses to keep more of these assets would provide them with a needed financial cushion to help them care for themselves in the community and plan for their own future care and well-being.


“Allowing community spouses to maintain the maximum amount of allowable assets is common sense policy. Connecticut is a high-cost state. Community spouses, most of which are elderly women, must be allowed to maintain the maximum amount of their own assets allowed under federal law to enable them to continue to care for themselves and plan for their futures as they age. In addition to helping seniors age in place, it also will result in long term savings to the state by helping seniors avoid expensive institutionalized care for as long as possible. I hope this study considers these benefits very closely and recognizes the importance of supporting policies that help people age in their communities with dignity, comfort, and care,” said Kelly.


Under Republican Governor Jodi Rell community spouses were allowed to keep the maximum amount, which currently is $137,400. Governor Dannel Malloy cut that amount in half, only allowing a community spouse in CT to retain half of the couple’s countable assets up to the federal maximum.  This reduction made it more difficult for community spouses, cut the savings accounts of thousands of elderly couples, and made it more likely that community spouses will end up in nursing homes.


Fourteen other states, including Maine and Vermont, already allow community spouses to retain 100% of their assets up to the federal maximum.



All three bills now move to the House of Representatives.