Elder

Brentwood Based Assisted-Living Conglomerate Sued by Residents

The nation’s largest assisted-living provider, Brentwood-based Brookdale Senior Living Inc., is being sued by eight disabled and elderly residents who claim the company is responsible for financial abuse and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The Mercury News reports. The plaintiffs maintain in the complaint that the organization failed to provide services listed in its initial agreement and fostered “humiliating, frustrating and hazardous situations on a daily basis.” The provider is no stranger to the courtroom, being party to numerous lawsuits over the years, including one case in which an elderly resident was killed by an alligator. The lawsuit will seek class-action status for the estimated 5,000 residents in Brookdale facilities throughout California.

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Volunteers Needed to Assist in Review of Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors

The TBA Elder Law Section is seeking assistance reviewing an updated edition of the 2019 Legal Handbook for Tennessee Seniors. This resource contains practical information on a wide range of topics, including issues such as applying for Social Security benefits, long-term care considerations and estate planning, as well as completely new sections addressing online security and new health care legislation. Volunteers will aid in reviewing the resource for errors prior to release. If you are able to assist with this important initiative, please email Elder Law Section Coordinator Jarod Word.

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Federal Agencies Break Up $1.2 Billion Medicare Fraud Scheme

Federal officials on Tuesday announced breaking up a $1.2 billion Medicare scheme that preyed on elderly and disabled patients, The New York Times reports. Investigators say the racket that involved the prescription of unnecessary support braces is one of the largest health care frauds in United States history. The defendants — made up of both medical professionals and telemarketers — would allegedly contact Medicare beneficiaries and coerce them into getting free or low-cost back, shoulder, wrist and knee braces that were then paid for by the organization. The defendants are also accused of laundering the money received through shell companies, then using it to buy items such as exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate.

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Trump Administration Punts on Medicare Policy Changes

The Trump administration is punting on premium spikes for Medicare, seeking to delay policy changes until after his 2020 reelection bid, The Washington Post reports. An up to 19 percent increase is expected with the president’s plans to do away with Medicare rebates paid to firms that manage pharmacy insurance by drug makers. Proponents of health care reform have long derided these rebates as a kickbacks and an incentive to drive up the cost of medications. Pharmacy benefit managers, which will be directly affected by the plans to halt rebates, maintain that they stabilize premiums and argue that nixing them will drive up premiums, which the administration's actuaries confirmed. Long lead times to put the plan into place was cited as the reason for the delay.

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Medical Professionals Stand Behind Nurse Charged With Reckless Homicide

Nurse’s around the country are rallying behind RaDonda Vaught, the former Vanderbilt University Medical Center employee charged with reckless homicide and abuse after she administered the wrong medication to a patient resulting in an elderly woman’s death, NPR reports. Vaught was to give the patient, Charlene Murphy, a dose of an anti-anxiety medication, however, injected her with an anesthetic that shared the first two letters of the intended drug. The American Nurses Association also came to Vaught’s defense saying: "the criminalization of medical errors could have a chilling effect” and expressed concerns that this may hamper future reporting of errors by medical professionals. DA spokesman Stephen Hayslip told NPR "the actions of this office will become more evident as the evidence is presented to the court,” but declined to comment further on the case. Vaught will be back in court for discussion on May 30.

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Tennessee Commission to End Domestic & Sexual Violence to Offer Free Legal Clinics in Cookeville

The Tennessee Commission to End Domestic & Sexual Violence will hold free legal clinics in Cookeville on Feb. 27 and 28. Volunteer lawyers will meet with attendees to offer legal advice on various issues, including immigration, housing, family problems, education and other civil legal needs. Walk-ins are welcome at these clinics. For more information, including how to volunteer, visit the agency's website or call 615-386-9406.
 
When: Feb. 27, 12 – 4 p.m. and 6 – 8 p.m., EST; Feb. 28, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., EST
Where: Family Justice Center, 269 South Willow Ave., Suite E, Cookeville
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Legislation Affecting Elder Law Practice

As the legislative session progresses, many bills of interest to the Elder Law Section are on the move. Here is a list of notable legislation which has the potential to affect your practice area:
 
SB199/HB249 GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION: Creates elder abuse task force.
 
Sponsors:
Sen. Briggs, Richard, Rep. Carr, Dale
 
Summary:
Creates elder abuse task force charged with examining the current state of financial elder abuse, determining its economic and human impact, and developing recommendations to address problems associated with financial exploitation of the elderly. The task force will consist of 12 members, appointed by the health and financial commissioners, speakers of the legislative houses, district attorney, and TBI, as well as representatives from health and banking associations. The task force will submit its findings and recommendations to the governor and the general assembly no later than January 15, 2021.
 
Senate Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to Senate Government Operations Committee.
 
House Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to House Public Health Subcommittee.

SB265/HB257 CRIMINAL LAW: Punishes specific offenses involving elderly adults.
 
Sponsors:
Sen. Roberts, Kerry, Rep. Littleton, Mary
 
Summary:
Orders that anyone who knowingly commits an offense against the elderly by using a communication device to obtain medical conditions, sending unsolicited medical supplies, and filing a claim of reimbursement through the state Medicare plan for the value of the supplies sent is punishable with a Class D felony.
 
Senate Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee.
 
House Status:
02/01/19 - Referred to House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

HB360 TRANSPORTATION VEHICLES: Vision exam for those 75 years or older seeking driver license.
 
Sponsor:
Rep. Cooper, Barbara
 
Summary:
Requires anyone aged 75 or older to pass a vision exam in person prior to renewal of license. Declares that in lieu of participation in the exam at the department, the applicant may undergo an exam by a licensed optometrist within 90 days prior to renewal. Authorizes persons with diagnosed impaired night vision to use night vision equipment without a driving-during-daytime-only restriction.
 
House Status:
01/31/19 - Introduced in the House

SB534/HB799: Offense of financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person. Broadens the offense of financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person to include the use of a telephone or other electronic or communication device to fraudulently or deceptively obtain or attempt to obtain money, property, or another thing of value from that person. Increases penalty for such offense.

SB711/HB686: Public guardianship for the elderly. Allows the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability to request the district public guardian to serve as a conservator for disabled persons who are younger than sixty (60) years of age if certain criteria are met.

SB1039/HB909: Elderly Abuse and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act of 2019.
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Man Unwittingly Targets Former FBI and CIA Director in Elderly Lottery Scam

A man who preyed on the elderly with a lottery scam picked the wrong target for his most recent ruse — a former director of the FBI and the CIA, the Washington Post reports. William H. Webster, who also served as a federal district and appeals court judge, received a call from the man claiming that he won $72 million and a new Mercedes Benz in the Mega Millions lottery, but that Webster must pay $50,000 in taxes and fees to receive the money. The caller went on to describe intimate details of Webster’s life, except perhaps the most important part – his illustrious career in law enforcement. Webster was able to aid the FBI in a reverse sting operation, leading to the arrest and conviction of the credulous conman which netted him almost six years in prison.

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Sexual Assault of Aging Victim Draws Attention to Elder Abuse

After reporting on the sexual assault of an 80-year-old woman in an unnamed Memphis nursing facility, WREG is providing information on signs and reporting of elder abuse. According to Sandy Bromley with the Shelby County Crime Victims Center and Rape Crisis Center, sexual assaults involving seniors are rare, however, family members should always be aware of suspicious injuries, bruises or unexplained maladies like urinary tract infections. The victim in this most recent case was taken to Methodist Hospital by family members after they noticed changes in her behavior, where the hospital performed a rape assessment and determined that she had been sexually assaulted. No charges have yet been filed regarding the incident.

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AG Slatery Defends Participation in ACA Lawsuit

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is defending his participation in the lawsuit that led to a federal judge to rule the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as unconstitutional, saying “the Commerce Clause of our Constitution that, according to the court, prevents Congress from compelling Tennesseans to buy insurance, especially if they can't afford it or don't want it,” The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor last December ruled in favor of the 19 Republican state attorneys general, who argued that the law was unconstitutional after the 2017 Tax Act eliminated penalties for adults without health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously upheld the mandate, saying it was constitutional because it fell under Congress's taxing power. State Democrats have blasted the ruling, warning of consequences for the 1.7 million Tennesseans with pre-existing health conditions and the quarter of a million people in the state who obtain their insurance coverage through the ACA.

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