Archive for the ‘Elder Law’ Category

Elder-abuse laws mean Arizona hospitals can be sued

August 5, 2013

PHOENIX – Arizona hospitals are subject to being sued under the state’s “elder abuse” laws, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

Without dissent, the judges rejected arguments by attorneys for two major hospitals that the laws are designed to give individuals and their families a way to bring suit against nursing homes and assisted-care facilities.

Judge Patricia Orozco said the Legislature wrote the laws to cover those who “provide care.” She said there is no way to logically read the law to conclude that does not apply to hospitals.

Orozco also rebuffed the contention that including hospitals was never the intent of lawmakers.

“Nowhere in the legislative history is there any suggestion that an acute-care hospital is exempt from liability,” she wrote.

Attorney Robert Boatman, who represented one of the families who sued, called the ruling an important financial victory for victims.

They always had the option to file a medical malpractice claim. But he said state law limits the kinds of costs a successful plaintiff can recover to things like filing fees and depositions. By contrast, someone who wins an elder-abuse claim can also get the losing party to pay for all out-of-pocket costs, including expert witnesses and the costs of investigations.

Boatman said that is important in these kinds of cases, where someone who gets a bedsore might be entitled to $50,000 in damages but the costs of the necessary medical experts to pursue the case can run $100,000.

No one from the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association was immediately available to comment on the effect of the decision.

Tuesday’s ruling actually involves two cases.

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Elder-abuse laws mean Arizona hospitals can be sued

GAO Calls for Asset Transfer Rules for VA Pension Applicants, Legislation Planned

August 9, 2012

About 200 organizations are marketing financial and estate planning services to help pension claimants with excess assets qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance and other pension benefits, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes after a year-long investigation.

Citing abuses among these firms, the agency recommends that Congress consider establishing a look-back and penalty period for pension claimants who transfer assets for less than fair market value prior to applying for pension benefits, similar to Medicaid. The GAO says the VA agrees that look-back and penalty periods for asset transfers are needed, and the New York Times reports that a bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce legislation giving the VA look-back authority. The Times also notes that a senior official at the VA says the department is drafting new regulations that would clarify the types of asset transfers that might disqualify a pension applicant.

The GAO unveiled its findings in testimony at a June 6, 2012, Senate hearing, where lawmakers also heard from a VA official, veterans advocates and a woman whose father was victimized by one of the unscrupulous “pension poachers,” as Senate aging committee chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) dubbed them.

“While these organizations may be legally entitled to operate,” said witness Lori Perkio of the American Legion, “it is unclear as to whether or not they are truly serving the best interests of the veterans and their families.” In Florida, for example, Perkio claimed that “American Legion service officers have run across a growing number of lawyers specializing in elder law who contact veterans directly through assisted living facilities (ALFs) with promises of how to divert income and assets to qualify for VA pension. Many of these attorneys do not provide follow up assistance with the ultimate pension claims process.”

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GAO Calls for Asset Transfer Rules for VA Pension Applicants, Legislation Planned

Klobuchar bill that protects seniors passes key test

August 2, 2012

WILLMAR — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s legislation to protect seniors from neglect or abuse by court-appointed guardians passed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

The Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act would help states improve their oversight of guardians and conservators of seniors and vulnerable adults. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, cosponsored the bill with Klobuchar, a Democrat.

The legislation was approved with a 15-3 vote and will be referred to the full Senate for approval.

The goal is to protect people from being neglected or financially exploited by their guardians.

The issue will grow in importance as the population of seniors doubles in the coming decades, Klobuchar said during the committee hearing on Thursday.

“I know every state has incidences of people getting ripped off millions of dollars when their loved one is supposed to be under the care of a guardian,” she said. “Most guardians do amazing work, good work, but again you have a situation where you have a very few that are causing a lot of harm.”

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Klobuchar bill that protects seniors passes key test

New Jersey Considers Adopting New Elder Law Protections

June 29, 2012

If lawmakers in New Jersey adopt a newly proposed law, the state will join about 30 others that have enacted so-called anti-”granny snatching” legislation. Known as the New Jersey Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act, the proposed law would make it much more difficult for family members with incapacitated elderly relatives to circumvent the state adult guardianship protections.

When a state court appoints an adult guardian for an elderly person, it typically appoints a family member to that position. With granny snatching, a family member who was unhappy with the guardianship determination can move the elderly person to a new state and ask a court in that state to name the family member as the guardian. If the court agrees, the new guardian will effectively from the old guardian’s rights because the old guardian was given powers under a New Jersey court and not the new states court.

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New Jersey Considers Adopting New Elder Law Protections