The Department of Justice announced on Wednesday that the Southern District of Ohio will serve as one of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces. Those teams will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and agencies that provide services to the elderly, to coordinate and enhance efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.
“We’re honored to be selected as one of the regional task forces,” Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman said. “Our designation highlights the great, collaborative work already underway here with local, state, and federal partners, and our District’s commitment to protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces will include representatives from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and law enforcement.
The 10 Elder Justice Task Forces will be launched in the following Districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.
The Daily Times reached out to the Area Agency on Aging for comments and was referred to Beverley Laubert, State Long-Term Ombudsman – Chief, Elder Rights Division of the Ohio Department of Aging.
“In Ohio, the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman works cooperatively with regulatory agencies and the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and has done so for several years,” Laubert told the Daily Times. “The initiative announced today (Wed. March 30) is too new to know what impact there will be on individual homes but we view such collaboration as positive and important to improving quality for residents who call the facilities “home.”
The Task Forces address the disconnect that sometimes occurs between reasonable expectations and actual services delivered.
“Millions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable,” Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery said. “Yet, all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents. These task forces will help ensure that we are working closely with all relevant parties to protect the elderly.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the Department’s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation’s seniors, spearheaded by the Department’s Elder Justice Initiative. The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Department’s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues. It plays an integral role in the Department’s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The Elder Justice Initiative will be providing litigation support and training to the Elder Justice Task Forces.
Learn more about the Justice Department’s Elder Justice Initiative at http://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.