SENATE, No. 3422

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 10, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RENEE C. BURGESS

District 28 (Essex and Union)

Senator  BRITNEE N. TIMBERLAKE

District 34 (Essex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Gopal

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     “Cancer Patient Care and Compassion Act.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning certain protections for cancer patients and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  Sections 1 through 6 of this act shall be known and may be cited as the “Cancer Patient Care and Compassion Act.”

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  A contract that provides hospital or medical expense benefits and is delivered, issued, executed, or renewed in this State by a carrier, the State Health Benefits Commission, or the School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission, or is approved for issuance or renewal in this State by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance, on or after the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        )  (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall provide coverage for individuals diagnosed with cancer and with a prognosis that is deemed Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal:

     (1)   parenteral treatment of the cancer;

     (2)   survivorship care plan, including follow-up appointments; and   

     (3)   any other service or item, as determined by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.       

     b.    A contract subject to this section shall not impose a coinsurance, copayment, or any other cost-sharing requirement on the coverage required under this section.

     c.     The provisions of this section shall apply to all contracts in which the carrier has reserved the right to change the premium.

     d.    As used in this section:

     “Parenteral treatment” means the intravenous, intra-arterial, intraperitoneal, or intrathecal administration of nutrition or medication bypassing the gastrointestinal system.

     “Survivorship care plan” means a plan for an individual with cancer from diagnosis through the end of life that focuses on the health and well-being of the individual.  This includes, but is not limited to, side effects from treatment, cancer recurrence, and quality of life.

 

     3.    (New section)  a.  Notwithstanding any State law or regulation to the contrary, the Department of Human Services shall ensure that expenses incurred for the following services shall be provided with no cost-sharing to persons served under the Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.) for individuals diagnosed with cancer and with a prognosis that is deemed Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal:

     (1)   parenteral treatment of the cancer;

     (2)   survivorship care plan, including follow-up appointments; and   

     (3)   any other service or item, as determined by the department.

     b.    Any copayment or coinsurance that may be required pursuant to the contract for services covered pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall not apply.

     c.     The department may take any administrative action necessary to effectuate the provisions of this section.

     d.    As used in this section:

     “Carrier” means an insurance company, health service corporation, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation, or health maintenance organization authorized to issue health benefits plans in this State.

     “Parenteral treatment” means the intravenous, intra-arterial, intraperitoneal, or intrathecal administration of nutrition or medication bypassing the gastrointestinal system.

     “Survivorship care plan” means a plan for an individual with cancer from diagnosis through the end of life that focuses on the health and well-being of the individual.  This includes, but is not limited to, side effects from treatment, cancer recurrence, and quality of life.

 

     4.    (New section)  a.  Before a residential mortgage lender provides a notice of intention to a residential mortgage debtor pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1995, c.244 (C.2A:50-56), and before the residential mortgage lender accelerates the maturity of a residential mortgage obligation and commences a foreclosure action to take possession of the residential property that is the subject of the mortgage, the residential mortgage lender shall ensure that a residential mortgage debtor is not undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.  If a residential mortgage debtor is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer, the residential mortgage lender shall not provide a notice of intention to the residential mortgage debtor until the residential mortgage lender receives notice from the physician treating the residential mortgage debtor that the debtor is no longer undergoing treatment.

     b.    Any foreclosure action to take possession of a residential property shall be dismissed upon submission by the residential mortgage debtor to the residential mortgage lender of a letter from the physician of the debtor certifying that the debtor is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.

 

     5.    (New section)  a.  A creditor shall not initiate a collection proceeding for a default on any debt against an individual who is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer and who submits to the creditor a letter from the individual’s physician certifying treatment of the individual for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer. 

     b.    Any collection proceeding against an individual who is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer shall be dismissed upon submission by the individual to the creditor of a letter from the individual’s physician certifying treatment of the individual for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.

     c.     As used in this section:

     “Collection proceeding” means actions related to the collection of an individual’s debt that require a legal or judicial process, including, but not limited to, placing a lien on an individual's property, attaching or seizing an individual's bank account or any other personal property, commencing a civil action against an individual, or garnishing an individual's wages.

     “Creditor” means a federal or State chartered bank, savings bank, savings and loan association or credit union, any person required to be licensed under the provisions of the “New Jersey Consumer Finance Licensing Act,” P.L.2009, c.53 (C.17:11C-51 et al.) and any entity acting on behalf of the creditor named in the debt obligation including, but not limited to, servicers, and any entity operating as a collection agency or in the business of purchasing debt.

 

     6.    (New section)  For an eviction action based on nonpayment or habitual late payment of rent, or failure to pay a rent increase, the Superior Court shall authorize a stay of eviction, for a period of time not to exceed 45 days, if the tenant is an individual undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer. 

     a.     For a tenant to be entitled to a stay of eviction pursuant to this section, the tenant shall submit a certification from the treating physician, which shall be deemed confidential and submitted under seal. 

     b.    During the time of the stay of eviction provided pursuant to this section, the tenant shall be entitled to renew the lease at its term of expiration, subject to reasonable changes proposed to the tenant by the landlord.

 

     7.    Section 24 of P.L.2019, c.37 (C.43:21-55.2) is amended to read as follows:

     24.  a.  Any covered individual who took any temporary disability benefits pursuant to P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et al.), or family temporary disability leave benefits pursuant to P.L.2008, c.17 (C.43:21-39.1 et al.), shall, upon the expiration of the leave, be entitled to be restored by the employer to the position held by the employee when the leave commenced or to an equivalent position of like seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.  If, during that period of leave, the employer has a reduction in force or layoffs and the employee would have lost the employee’s position had the employee not been on the leave as a result of the reduction in force or layoff, or pursuant to the good faith operation of a bona fide layoff and recall system including a system under an applicable collective bargaining agreement, the employee shall not be entitled to reinstatement to the former or an equivalent position, if the employer notifies the employee of the employee’s right pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection (c) of R.S.43:21-19 to file a claim for unemployment benefits after the leave period ends.  The employee shall retain all rights under any applicable layoff and recall system, including a system under a collective bargaining agreement, as if the employee had not taken the leave.

     b.    An employer shall not discharge, harass, threaten, or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis that the employee requested or took any temporary disability benefits pursuant to P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et al.), or family temporary disability leave benefits pursuant to P.L.2008, c.17 (C.43:21-39.1 et al.), including retaliation by refusing to [restore] reinstate to equivalent employment  the employee following a period of leave [, except that, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-26), nothing in this section or any other section of P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et al.) or P.L.2008, c.17 (C.43:21-39.1 et al.) shall be construed as increasing, reducing or otherwise modifying any entitlement provided to a worker by the provisions of the "Family Leave Act," P.L.1989, c.261 (C.34:11B-1 et seq.) to be restored to employment by the employer after a period of family temporary disability leave] as required by subsection a. of this section .

     c.     During any period that temporary disability benefits are provided pursuant to P.L.1948, c.110 (C.43:21-25 et al.), or family temporary disability leave benefits provided pursuant to P.L.2008, c.17 (C.43:21-39.1 et al.), the employer shall:

     (1)   maintain coverage under any group health insurance policy, group subscriber contract or health care plan at the same level and with the same or equivalent terms, including the employee’s cost of coverage, such as premium contributions, co-pays, and deductibles, as would have been provided if the employee’s employment had been continuous throughout that period; and

     (2)   provide, in addition to the benefits required by this section, any other employment benefits that would be provided pursuant to the employer's policy for employees on temporary leave from employment.

     [b.] d.  Upon a violation of subsection a., b. or c. of this section, including a failure of the employer to restore an employee to the position the employee held prior to leave under subsection b. of this section, an employee or former employee affected by the violation may take one of the following actions:

     (1)   file a written complaint with the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development to seek reinstatement to employment. If the employer is found by a preponderance of the evidence to be in violation, the commissioner shall order the reinstatement the employee to the position previously held with no reduction in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment, compensation for any lost wages, benefits and other remuneration, and fine the employer $2,500 for each violation of subsection a., b. or c. of this section, or   

     (2)   institute a civil action in the Superior Court for relief.  All remedies available in common law tort actions shall be available to a prevailing plaintiff.  The court may also order any or all of the following relief:

     [(1)] (a)     an assessment of a civil fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $2,000 for the first violation of any of the provisions of this section and not more than $5,000 for each subsequent violation;

     [(2)] (b)     an injunction to restrain the continued violation of any of the provisions of this section;

     [(3)] (c)     reinstatement of the employee to the same position or to a position equivalent to that which the employee held prior to

unlawful discharge or retaliatory action, or other failure to reinstate the employee in violation of this section;

     [(4)] (d)     reinstatement of full fringe benefits and seniority rights;

     [(5)] (e)     compensation for any lost wages, benefits and other remuneration; and

     [(6)] (f)     payment of reasonable costs and attorney's fees.

     e.     An employee who is eligible for both earned sick leave pursuant to P.L.2018, c.10 (C.34:11D-1 et seq.). and either temporary disability benefits pursuant to P.L.1948, c. 110 (C.43:21-25 et al.), or family temporary disability leave benefits pursuant to P.L.2008, c. 17 (C.43:21-39.1 et al.) shall have the option of using either the earned sick leave or whichever is applicable of temporary disability benefits or family temporary disability leave benefits, and may select the order in which the different kinds of leave are taken, but shall not receive more than one kind of paid leave simultaneously during any period of time.

(cf: P.L.2019, c.37, s.24)

 

     8.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month next after enactment and shall apply to all policies, plans, and contracts delivered, issued, executed, or renewed on or after the effective date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, to be known as the “Cancer Patient Care and Compassion Act,” provides certain protections for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer patients.  The bill:

     1.    Requires health insurance carriers (including health service corporations, hospital service corporations, medical service corporations, commercial individual and group health insurers, and health maintenance organizations), entities contracted to administer health benefits in connection with the State Health Benefits Program and School Employees’ Health Benefits Program, and the NJ FamilyCares/Medicaid program to provide coverage for individuals diagnosed with cancer and with a prognosis that is deemed Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal  (1) parenteral treatment of the cancer; (2) survivorship care plan, including follow-up appointments; and (3) any other service or item as determined by the regulators of each type of carrier or contract.  Under the bill, “parenteral treatment” means the intravenous, intra-arterial, intraperitoneal, or intrathecal administration of nutrition or medication bypassing the gastrointestinal system and “survivorship care plan” means a plan for an individual with cancer from diagnosis through the end of life that focuses on the health and well-being of the individual.  This includes, but is not limited to, side effects from treatment, cancer recurrence, and quality of life.  Any cost-sharing or copayment or coinsurance that may be required for coverage will not apply.

     2.    Prohibits residential mortgage lenders from providing a notice of intention to a residential mortgage debtor undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.  Under the bill, a residential mortgage lender shall ensure, before sending a notice of intention to cure a default on a mortgage debtor’s residential mortgage obligation, that the residential mortgage debtor is not undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.  If a mortgage debtor is undergoing treatment, the mortgage lender will be prohibited from providing a notice of intention to the mortgage debtor until the mortgage lender receives notice from the physician of the mortgage debtor that the debtor is no longer undergoing treatment.  Additionally, the bill provides that any foreclosure action to take possession of a residential property will be dismissed upon submission by the residential mortgage debtor to the residential mortgage lender of a letter from the physician of the debtor certifying that the debtor is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.

     3.    Prohibits a creditor from initiating a collection proceeding for a default on any debt against an individual who is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer and who submits to the creditor a letter from the individual’s physician certifying treatment of the individual for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.  The bill also provides that any collection proceeding against an individual who is undergoing treatment for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer is required to be dismissed upon submission by the individual of a letter from the individual’s physician certifying treatment of the individual for Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer.

     4.    Requires that for eviction actions based on nonpayment or habitual late payment of rent, or for failure to pay a rent increase, the Superior Court will authorize a stay of eviction for up to 45 days if the tenant is actively undergoing Stage III, Stage IV, or terminal cancer treatment.  To qualify for this stay, the tenant must provide a confidential certification from their treating physician, submitted under seal. Additionally, during the stay period, the tenant has the right to renew their lease upon its expiration, subject to reasonable changes proposed by the landlord.

     The bill also provides the right to reinstatement to equivalent employment after a period of leave applies to all periods in which TDI or FLI benefits are provided, including extending that right to FLI leave takers employed by employers with less than 30 employees, as is presently the case for TDI leave takers.  Under the bill, an employee who is eligible for both earned sick leave and either TDI or FLI benefits, may use either the earned sick leave or whichever is applicable of the TDI or FLI benefits, and may select the order in which they are taken, but may not receive more than one kind of paid leave benefits during any period of time.