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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

October 1, 2013

Federal Government Shutdown

The U.S. government has partially shut down for the first time in 17 years due to the absence of either a fiscal year 2014 appropriation, or a continuing resolution.  The shut down has resulted in the temporary furloughing of up to one million nonessential federal workers, and regular operations for the Administration for Community Living (ACL), under the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) have been suspended.  As of 1pm today, employees with ACL are unable to respond to any communications until the furlough is over and they are authorized to return to work.
At this time, the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, operated by the Consumer Voice and funded by the Administration on Aging, is unaffected by the shutdown and fully operational.  The shut down has also not impeded the roll out of enrollment in health insurance marketplaces, a key component of the Affordable Care Act.
here for more information.

For information on CMS' functionality during the shutdown, read the memorandum.

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Consumer Voice Announces New Assisted Living Focus Group!

Help us spread the word!

The Consumer Voice is launching a brand new focus group to get input and thoughts from residents of assisted living facilities on issues related to their long-term care and services. By joining the Assisted Living Focus Group, participants will have the opportunity to respond and react to ideas and suggestions for changes in assisted living and other aspects of long-term care. Participants will also provide Consumer Voice staff with feedback about their experiences with their care. The feedback we receive will then be used to guide us in our policy work.

This focus group is ONLY open to consumers who live in assisted living facilities. Consumers' names will not be shared outside the group, and nothing said will affect the services the individual is receiving. Participation in this focus group is completely free.

The first meeting of the Assisted Living Focus Group will take place by telephone on a toll-free conference line on Thursday, October 17th from 3:00-4:00pm ET. Participants will be joined by other consumers and Consumer Voice staff. We will ask questions, which individuals will receive ahead of time, and then give participants an opportunity to respond.

If you know someone who is living in an assisted living facility, please pass this information along! For registration information, click here. If you have any questions, please contact Sara Cirba at scirba@theconsumervoice.org or at 202-332-2275 x 221.

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OAA Reathorization Act of 2013 to Be Considered By Senate Committee

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was scheduled to consider the bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1562) on Wednesday, October 2nd,  but the mark-up has been postponed due to the government shutdown. This legislation, which can be read here, was introduced jointly by Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Tom Harkin (IO) and Lamar Alexander (TN) of the HELP Committee and would reauthorize the Older American Act (OAA) through 2018.
The OAA provides important services and protections to older adults, including the long-term care ombudsman program, and has been up for reauthorization since 2011. Consumer Voice is pleased that the legislation includes language to strengthen and improve the long-term care ombudsman program’s effectiveness in a number of ways, such as identification and remedying individual and organizational conflicts of interest and better direction on how to advocate for residents with limited or no decision-making capacity and no legal representative.
In addition to reauthorizing existing programs, the OAA Reauthorization Act of 2013 includes new provisions to better protect long-term care consumers receiving services and supports at home. This new legislation would encourage the development of a consumer-friendly tool to assist older individuals and their families in choosing home and community-based services, with a particular focus on ways for consumers to assess how providers protect the health, safety, welfare and rights of consumers. The OAA Reauthorization Act of 2013 would also grant long-term care ombudsman programs the option of continuing to provide assistance and services to individuals transitioning out of long-term care facilities and into home settings when feasible.
Consumer Voice strongly supports S. 1562 and commends Senators Sanders, Harkin and Alexander for their work in bringing a bipartisan OAA reauthorization bill to committee. We are disappointed that the hearing tomorrow will not be able to go on as hoped but will keep our network informed of when the HELP committee schedules a new time to consider this bill.

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NORC and National Disability Rights Network Releases Report on LTCOP and Protection & Advocacy Networks

NORC worked with the National Disability Rights Network on a report regarding collaborations between the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and Protection & Advocacy networks, as well as identifying some best practices and recommendations for future work.  The final report was submitted to the Administration on Aging and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Read the report.

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CFPB Guidance on Financial Exploitation References LTCOP

On September 24, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released new interagency guidance on privacy laws and reporting financial abuse of older adults.  The guidance clarifies that reporting suspected financial abuse of older adults by financial institutions to appropriate local, state, or federal agencies does not, in general, violate the privacy provisions of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) or its implementing regulations.  In fact, the act permits the sharing of this type of information under appropriate circumstances without complying with notice and opt-out requirements.

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is referenced specifically on p.2 of the guidance, which suggests using the Elder Care Locator to locate local programs.  The guidance states, "Prompt reporting of suspected financial exploitation to adult protective services, law enforcement, and/or long-term care ombudsmen can trigger appropriate intervention, prevention of financial losses, and other remedies."

Click here to read the full guidance.

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Elder Abuse Workshop Held in Alabama

In Alabama, the East Alabama Commission's Community Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program held a workshop on elder abuse to educate the community.  Participants included caregivers, senior and local law enforcement.  Over 200 people attended the conference.  For more information, read the article in the Anniston Star.

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Remembering Mary Gorale

The Consumer Voice is saddened by the passing of nursing home advocate Mary Gorale.  Mary was the founder and president of the Family Advocates for Nursing-Home and Home Care Improvement (F.A.N.H.I.) from 1992-2011, and she was a close friend of the late Anna Spinella.  Mary was an important advocate, and she will be missed.

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Advocate Gloria Black Prompts Closer Look at Bed Rail Injuries and Deaths

Prompted by the tireless efforts of bed rail advocate Gloria Black, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently took a closer look at deaths and injuries from adult portable bed rails used in homes, nursing or assisted living facilities.  The CPSC found from 2003 to 2012, 155 people died as a result in a bed rail related incident.  Ms. Black recently spoke out on bed rail safety on CBS. Ms. Black said, "Sometimes there's a need for a reality check.  And, the bed rails story is three decades overdue for a reality check.  My goal has always been to stop the next death."  For more information, read the article from WUSA9.

Also, CPSC recently released a fact sheet highlighting the dangers of bed rails.

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NELP Webpage on New Federal Protections for Home Care Workers

The National Employment Law Project has launched its new webpage which includes a state map and table on the state impacts of the new federal protections for home care workers, as well as links to other resources.  The page will be updated regularly to include new fact sheets, press, and webinars on the regulations.  View the webpage.

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Consumer Voice's Robyn Grant Quoted in NY Times Article on Lack of Sprinklers in Nursing Homes; View the Hall of Flame

Consumer Voice Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Robyn Grant was recently quoted in a New York Times article on sprinklers in nursing homes.  Sprinklers have been mandated in any nursing home certified by Medicare and Mediciad, but more than 1100 older nursing homes still do not have sprinklers or have only "partial" systems. In the article, Robyn made several important points regarding nursing home residents and fire safety: "We have residents who can't get out of bed without two staff members to assist them."  She also pointed out that many residents have cognitive limitations and may not understand how to respond to an alarm or to staff directions.  Plus, "fires often happen at night when they're particularly understaffed," Robyn said.  For more information, read the full article.

The Consumer Voice is calling for citizen action to help us motivate nursing homes to come into compliance by calling them out on their lack of sprinklers. Find out what nursing homes in your town, area or state are not fully sprinklered by visiting our Hall of Flame which exposes nursing homes who have failed to comply with CMS sprinkler requirements.

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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 © 2013.

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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National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care - 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 425 - Washington, DC 20036 - telephone: (202) 332-2275 - fax: (202) 332-2949 - info@theconsumervoice.org