Elder

Heritage Law Group to Host Elder Care Expo on May 23

The Heritage Law Group will host the third annual Elder Care Expo on May 23 at Gallatin First United Methodist Church. The program provides older adults with information on healthy aging, dementia, general primary care for seniors and understanding the continuum of care. Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet local exhibitors specializing in senior concerns and enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch. There is no charge for this event. Here is the key info:

When: Thursday, May 23, Registration at 8 a.m., CDT
Where: Gallatin First United Methodist Church, 149 West Main St., Gallatin
 

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Wife of Warner Bros. Executive Who Suffers from Alzheimers Accused of Elder Abuse

The son of former Warner Bros. chief and Alzheimers sufferer Terry Semel filed a petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court to appoint a temporary conservator for his father, accusing his stepmother of elder abuse, The Los Angeles Times reports. That son, Eric Semel, says that his stepmother is “in serious breach of her fiduciary duties” and “causing serious harm to Terry’s health and safety,” further accusing her of telling his father’s caregivers to change the dosage of his medications, refusing to take him to routine exams, refusing to let him leave the facility and limiting his social interactions, among other claims. The elder Semel is one of the most powerful men in Hollywood and has an estate valued at several hundred million dollars.

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Tennessee Nursing Home Chain Ordered to Pay $1.8 Million Regarding Resident's Brain Injury

Chattanooga-based nursing home conglomerate Grace Healthcare Support Services has been ordered to pay the family of a woman who suffered a brain injury in one of its homes after an employee rolled the patient out of a bed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The fall happened in the Grace Healthcare facility in Tucker, Georgia, when only one employee attempted to change the bedsheets of the resident, Christine Mitchell, despite a policy requiring two employees when changing the linens on the facility’s rail-less beds. Mitchell died just one month after the incident. A jury in the case did not find the nursing home responsible for her death; however, it ultimately held the provider responsible for pain and suffering throughout Mitchell's final days and awarded the family $1.8 million. The Grace Healthcare facility in Tucker currently holds one-star ratings in every category on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare list, which is the lowest designation possible.

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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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