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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

May 1, 2012

Minnesota Stiffens Penalty for Neglect; Recognizes Challenges Faced by Caregivers

A new Minnesota law makes caregiver neglect a felony, creating penalties up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison for causing bodily harm to a vulnerable adult. Consumer advocates; labor representatives; and providers reached agreement on provisions that allow workers to defend themselves against charges if, for example, low staffing rates contribute to causing an injury.

The Intentional Felony Deprivation Law allows employees without managerial or supervisory authority to prove that they neglected someone “because of inadequate staffing levels, inadequate supervision or institutional policies.” Caregivers can also show that they neglected the care of a vulnerable adult because they were providing necessary care to another vulnerable adult. The law also allows supervisors and managers to claim as a defense that they “did not knowingly, intentionally or recklessly permit criminal acts.”

Before enactment of the law, “even the most malicious neglect and bodily harm could result in a fine no higher than a ticket for driving 10 miles over the speed limit,” says Minnesota State Ombudsman Deb Holtz. “Throughout the debates and hearings, labor officials and health care providers voiced concern that inadvertent care mistakes would be criminalized. Minnesota advocates reached agreement among all the stakeholders by outlining defenses to prosecution that will be applicable in both gross misdemeanor and felony cases.”

Holtz hailed passage of the law in “a bipartisan, consensus, unanimous model.”

Mark Rickling of SEIU said his union’s Minnesota local had worked with prosecutors to develop “adequate protection for nursing home workers from being charged for systemic management failures -- problems attributable to understaffing, etc. As far as we know, this is the first such law with such protections..”

Iris Freeman, recipient of the Consumer Voice’s 2011 Elma Holder Founder’s Award for decades of advocacy for long-term care consumers, worked for passage of the law for 17 years. “We’ve long maintained that state legislation can be written to achieve justice for vulnerable adult victims while respecting the complex care-giving performed each day by family and direct care workers,” she says.

Read the full text of the law.

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Join NCLC for a Webinar about Services for LGBT Older Adults

Join the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) for a webinar on May 22nd, Providing Culturally Competent Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients. The webinar will cover basic information about LGBT older adults, discuss some unique needs, and suggest approaches that organizations may take to improve the quality of services provided to LGBT older adults. The webinar is free.

Providing Culturally Competent Services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
2:00-3:30pm EST

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Senate Approves Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

The Senate approved the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA). The legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

“The programs VAWA supports have gone a long way to help stop batterers in their tracks and provide victims with the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives. This reauthorizing legislation builds upon proven prevention and support strategies and includes new provisions to address the changing and still unmet needs of victims,” Kohl said.

For more information, read the full press release.

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HHS Announces New Opportunities in Medicaid and Medicare

Health and Human Services announced new opportunities in Medicaid and Medicare that will allow people to more easily receive care and services in their communities rather than being admitted to a hospital. Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the Community First Choice rule is a new state plan option under Medicaid, and the Independence At Home Demonstration program encourages primary care practices to provide home-based care to chronically ill Medicare patients.

For more information, read the full press release.

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Database Now Available of Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes

A new article series in The Boston Globe highlights the alarming truth about antipsychotic use in nursing homes. Antipsychotic drugs can cause dangerous side effects, and the FDA has issued black-box warnings – the agency’s most serious medication alert – about potentially fatal side effects when antipsychotics are taken by patients with dementia.

Nursing home regulators have been collecting data for years about individual homes’ use of antipsychotics, and the government has finally provided the data to the Globe. The data show that in more than one in five nursing homes, antipsychotics are administered to a significant percentage of residents despite the fact that they do not have a psychosis or related condition that warrants their use. The findings are organized in an online database available on the Globe’s website.

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AOA Hosting Series of Webinars on Dementia

The Administration on Aging is hosting a series of three webinars for the aging network on the issue of dementia, starting May 9th.

Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias: Basic/refresher info & current updates on symptoms, diagnoses & treatments
May 9, 2012 1:30pm EST

On-line Tools & Resources to Assist Individuals with Dementia and Caregivers
June 13, 2012 1:30pm EST

Connecting the Aging Network, Individuals with Dementia, and Caregivers with Research Opportunities
July 12, 2012 1:30pm EST

Registration is required. Register now.

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HHS Releases Community First Choice and 1915(i) Rules

CMS released a final rule implementing the Community First Choice Option (CFC) as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). CMS also issued a proposed rule to amend existing Medicaid regulations in accordance with the new 1915(i) Medicaid state plan option.

Both rules are available to view here.
For more information, visit NORC's website.

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AOA Determines that SLTCOP Issue is Not a Conflict of Interest

The Administration on Aging (AOA) has determined that it is not a conflict of interest for the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and his or her representatives to receive compensation for services or reimbursement for expenses carried out the provisions of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

The AOA said in a letter to California State Ombudsman Joseph Rodrigues, “The Bankruptcy Code allows for the appointment of Patient Care Ombudsman when a health care business files for bankruptcy. If the health care business provides long-term care services, the Bankruptcy Court may appoint the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman as the Patient Care Ombudsman. The Bankruptcy Code permits compensation and reimbursement of actual services and expenses to be paid to the Patient Care Ombudsman. The Administration on Aging has determined that compensation or reimbursement under the Bankruptcy Code to the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the State Ombudsman and Ombudsman representatives does not constitute a prohibited conflict of interests under the OAA.”

For more information, read the full letter from the AOA on the Consumer Voice website (under Ombudsman Issues).

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AARP Report Discusses Immunization Racial Disparities

A new report from AARP Public Policy Institute discusses adult immunization recommendations and current Medicare immunization coverage policies, immunization disparities and factors that contribute to disparities. The report finds that immunization rates among older African Americans and Hispanics remain lower than those for whites.

Read the full report.

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President Honors Older Americans Month 2012

The President released a proclamation today honoring Older Americans Month 2012.

Read the full release.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to swells@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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