Substitute House Bill No. 6939

Public Act No. 01-209

AN ACT CONCERNING PROTECTIVE SERVICES FOR ELDERLY PERSONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (c) of section 17b-451 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(c) Any other person having reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an elderly person is being, or has been, abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned, or who is in need of protective services may report such information in any reasonable manner to the commissioner or [his] the commissioner's designee.

Sec. 2. Section 17b-452 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The commissioner upon receiving a report that an elderly person allegedly is being, or has been, abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned, or is in need of protective services shall [cause a prompt and thorough evaluation to be made,] investigate the report to determine the situation relative to the condition of the elderly person and what action and services, if any, are required. The [evaluation] investigation shall include (1) a visit to the named elderly person, [and] (2) consultation with those individuals having knowledge of the facts of the particular case, and (3) an interview with the elderly person alone unless the elderly person refuses to consent to such interview or the commissioner determines that such interview is not in the best interests of the elderly person. If the commissioner determines that a caretaker is interfering with the commissioner's ability to conduct an interview alone with the elderly person, the commissioner may bring an action in the Superior Court or Probate Court seeking an order enjoining such caretaker from interfering with the commissioner's ability to conduct an interview alone with the elderly person. In investigating a report under this subsection, the commissioner may subpoena witnesses, take testimony under oath and compel the production of any necessary and relevant documents necessary to investigate the allegations of abuse, neglect or abandonment. The commissioner may request the Attorney General to petition the superior court for such order as may be appropriate to enforce the provisions of this section. Upon completion of the [evaluation of each case] investigation, written findings shall be prepared which shall include recommended action and a determination of whether protective services are needed. The person filing the report shall be notified of the findings, upon request.

(b) The Department of Social Services shall maintain a state-wide registry of the reports received, the [evaluation] investigation and findings and the actions taken.

(c) The client's file, the original report and the [evaluation] investigation report shall not be deemed public records nor be subject to the provisions of section 1-210. The name of the person making the original report or any person mentioned in such report shall not be disclosed unless the person making the original report specifically requests such disclosure or unless a judicial proceeding results therefrom or unless disclosure of the name of the elderly person about whom the report was made is required to fully [evaluate] investigate a report.

Sec. 3. Section 17b-454 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Any person, department, agency or commission authorized to carry out the duties enumerated in sections 17b-450 to 17b-461, inclusive, shall have access to all relevant records, except that records which are confidential to an elderly person shall only be divulged with the written consent of the elderly person or [his] the representative of such elderly person. If the Commissioner of Social Services has reasonable cause to believe that the elderly person lacks capacity to give consent to release confidential records or if the caretaker of such elderly person is refusing consent and the commissioner has reasonable cause to believe that such caretaker has abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned the elderly person, the commissioner may issue a subpoena to obtain confidential records necessary to investigate the allegations of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment. The commissioner may request the Attorney General to petition the Superior Court for such order as may be appropriate to enforce the provisions of this section. The authority of the Department of Social Services shall include, but not be limited to, the right to initiate or otherwise take those actions necessary to assure the health, safety and welfare of any elderly person, subject to any specific requirement for individual consent, and the right to authorize the transfer of an elderly person from a nursing home.

Sec. 4. Section 36a-42 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

A financial institution may not disclose to any person, except to the customer or the customer's duly authorized agent, any financial records relating to such customer unless the customer has authorized disclosure to such person or the financial records are disclosed in response to (1) a certificate signed by the Commissioner of Administrative Services or the Commissioner of Social Services pursuant to the provisions of section 17b-137, (2) a lawful subpoena, summons, warrant or court order as provided in section 36a-43, (3) interrogatories by a judgment creditor or a demand by a levying officer as provided in sections 52-351b and 52-356a, (4) a certificate issued by a medical provider or its attorney under subsection (b) of section 17b-124, provided nothing in this subsection shall require the provider or its attorney to furnish to the financial institution any application for medical assistance filed under section 17b-259 or pursuant to an agreement with the IV-D agency under subsection (e) of section 17b-137, [or] (5) a certificate signed by the Commissioner of Veterans' Affairs pursuant to section 27-117, or (6) the consent of an elderly person or the representative of such elderly person provided to a person, department, agency or commission pursuant to section 17b-454, as amended by this act, provided the financial institution shall have no obligation to determine the capacity of such elderly person or the representative of such elderly person to provide such consent.

Sec. 5. Subsection (a) of section 36a-43 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Except as provided in section 36a-44, a financial institution shall disclose financial records pursuant to a lawful subpoena, summons, warrant or court order served upon it if the party seeking the records causes such subpoena, summons, warrant or court order or a certified copy thereof to be served upon the customer whose records are being sought, at least ten days prior to the date on which the records are to be disclosed, provided a court of competent jurisdiction, for good cause, may waive service of such subpoena, summons, warrant or court order, or certified copy thereof, upon such customer. If such subpoena was issued by the Commissioner of Administrative Services or the Commissioner of Social Services pursuant to section 17b-137, 17b-452, as amended by this act, or 17b-454, as amended by this act, service of such subpoena upon the customer shall not be required.

Sec. 6. Subsection (a) of section 45a-650 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) At any hearing for involuntary representation, the court shall receive evidence regarding the condition of the respondent, including a written report or testimony by one or more physicians licensed to practice medicine in the state who have examined the respondent within thirty days preceding the hearing. The report or testimony shall contain specific information regarding the disability and the extent of its incapacitating effect. The court may also consider such other evidence as may be available and relevant, including but not limited to a summary of the physical and social functioning level or ability of the respondent, and the availability of support services from the family, neighbors, community, or any other appropriate source. Such evidence may include, if available, reports from the social work service of a general hospital, municipal social worker, director of social service, public health nurse, public health agency, psychologist, coordinating assessment and monitoring agencies, or such other persons as the court deems qualified to provide such evidence. The court may waive the requirement that medical evidence be presented if it is shown that the evidence is impossible to obtain because of the absence of the respondent or his or her refusal to be examined by a physician or that the alleged incapacity is not medical in nature. If this requirement is waived, the court shall make a specific finding in any decree issued on the petition stating why medical evidence was not required. In any matter in which the Commissioner of Social Services seeks the appointment of a conservator pursuant to chapter 319dd and represents to the court that an examination by an independent physician, psychologist or psychiatrist is necessary to determine whether the elderly person is capable of managing his or her personal or financial affairs, the court shall order such examination unless the court determines that such examination is not in the best interests of the elderly person. The court shall order such examination notwithstanding any medical report submitted to the court by the elderly person or the caretaker of such elderly person.

Sec. 7. This act shall take effect July 1, 2001.

Approved July 13, 2001