Bill Summary for H 351 (2021)

Summary date: 

Jul 22 2021

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2021
House Bill 351 (Public) Filed Monday, March 22, 2021
AN ACT DIRECTING THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO ESTABLISH VISITATION PROTOCOLS FOR NURSING HOMES, COMBINATION HOMES, AND ADULT CARE HOMES, INCLUDING FAMILY CARE HOMES, DURING DECLARED DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES AND REQUIRING THESE FACILITIES TO ADHERE TO THE ESTABLISHED VISITATION PROTOCOLS DURING DECLARED DISASTERS AND EMERGENCIES WHEN NORMAL VISITATION POLICIES ARE SUSPENDED OR CURTAILED.
Intro. by Dixon, Lambeth, White, Moss.

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Bill summary

Senate committee substitute deletes the content of the 4th edition and replaces it with the following.

Includes whereas clauses. 

Enacts GS 131E-84.05, mandating licensed hospitals to allow a clergy member to visit any patient admitted to the hospital who requests or consents to be visited by a clergy member during their stay, including a stay during a declared disaster or emergency, notwithstanding any State law to the contrary. Subjects the visiting clergy member to health screenings necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Allows hospitals to require adherence to infection control procedures, with an exception for instances in which such procedures interfere with the religious beliefs of the patient or the visiting clergy member.

Enacts GS 131E-79.3, mandating licensed hospitals to permit patients to receive visitors to the fullest extent permitted under any applicable rules, regulations, or guidelines adopted by either the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or any federal law, notwithstanding any State law to the contrary. Authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to issue a warning to a hospital found by the CMS, CDC, or other federal agency to have violated any federal rule, regulation, guidance or law relating to patient's visitation rights, and to give the hospital 24 hours to allow visitation. Authorizes DHHS to impose a penalty of at least $500 for each instance on each day the hospital is found to have a violation following the 24-hour warning period. Specifies that the penalty is in addition to federally imposed fines or penalties. Adds that in the event that a hospital requires complete closure to visitors, hospitals must use their best efforts to develop alternate protocols that would allow visitation to the greatest extent safely possible. Similarly authorizes DHHS to impose a civil penalty of at least $500 for each instance on each day the hospital is found to have a violation related to alternate visitation protocols, in addition to federally imposed fines or penalties.

Enacts GS 131E-112.5 (applicable to licensed nursing homes and combination homes), GS 131E-207.5 (applicable to licensed hospice care facilities), and GS 122C-32 (applicable to licensed residential treatment facilities), making the patient visitation rights, facility responsibilities, and civil penalty provisions of new GS 131E-79.3 applicable to the specified facilities, notwithstanding any State law to the contrary. 

Enacts GS 131D-7.5, mandating licensed adult care homes and special care units to allow residents to receive visitors of their choice, except when one of three circumstances are established by clear and convincing evidence, such as when infection control issues are present or when visitation interferes with the care of other patients. Authorizes DHHS to impose a civil penalty of at least $500 for each instance on each day a facility was found to have a violation.

Makes the above provisions effective January 1, 2022. 

Directs DHHS to adopt implementing rules by January 1, 2022, including certain notice requirements regarding patient visitation rights and contact information for entities charged with investigating violations. 

Changes the act's titles. 

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