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May 19, 2019  |  

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Kennedy: An Update from Hartford

Published July 20, 2017

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Building Connecticut’s Bioscience Future

A 2015 economic competitiveness survey of Connecticut found that the state has great assets and economic drivers in research and development, bioscience, and health data. Connecticut has some of the world’s top research universities, and also has the benefit of being home to The Jackson Laboratory and numerous other bioscience and precision medicine companies eager to establish the state as a hub for this kind of work, attracting experts from around the world and retaining the state’s current and developing experts.

I led passage of SB 968, which ensures the continued work of the Connecticut Health Data Collaborative (CHDC). The CHDC is tasked with developing and implementing a strategy by which Connecticut can establish itself as a worldwide leader in bioscience and precision medicine. Several of my colleagues in the legislature serve on the CHDC with representatives from Yale, UConn, and Connecticut’s other bioscience stakeholders, as well as with representatives from the insurance and technology industries. Governor Dannel Malloy recently signed SB 968 into law, ensuring the CHDC will continue encouraging the collaboration of business, higher education and government to strengthen and grow Connecticut’s bioscience industry.

A Way to Stay Close to Family

As Connecticut’s population ages, creative ways to allow elderly people to stay close to home or to family members are being sought, and temporary health care structures, also known as “granny pods,” are a potential way to do that, according to the AARP. These structures serve as a more affordable alternative to nursing homes, allowing seniors to receive the care they need while maintaining the independence of living in a home of their own.

I supported the passage of legislation that will allow municipalities to approve the placement of these granny pods on residential property. This bill was recently signed into law as Public Act 17-155 by Governor Malloy.

The units would be approximately 300 square feet, ADA compliant, and allow users to have a safe, single-level housing unit on their own property, providing residents with an option other than moving into a nursing care facility or remodeling their existing home to meet their current health needs. In the long run, these pods could save both families and our state Medicaid program a significant sum.

Enhancing Financial Security for People with Disabilities

Many individuals with disabilities face significant financial challenges. That’s why I introduced HB 7032, a bill that enhances and expands the use of tax-advantaged savings accounts, initially created by Connecticut’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This bill received unanimous support in the Senate and the House of Representatives, and now awaits Governor Malloy’s signature.

The ABLE Act allows families to contribute to a protected account to pay for disability-related expenses, such as transportation and housing, without jeopardizing a person’s eligibility for Medicaid and Social Security. The proposed changes will simplify and accelerate adoption of these accounts in Connecticut and even allow Connecticut citizens to access ABLE plans from other states, so they can shop for the most competitive plan.

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