Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Walgreen to settle Medicaid billing case for $9.9 million

Walgreen has agreed to pay $9.9 million to settle allegations by the Department of Justice and four states -- Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota -- that the company improperly billed Medicaid, DOJ said in a statement on Monday.  According to DOJ, the allegations involved Medicaid claims for medications dispensed to beneficiaries who also had private health insurance. DOJ said that Walgreen charged the Medicaid programs in the four states the difference between the amount that private insurers paid for the medications and the amount that the programs would have paid for beneficiaries who did not have private health insurance. In those four states, Walgreen can bill Medicaid programs only for the amount of copayments for medications dispensed to beneficiaries who also have private health insurance, DOJ said. DOJ did not disclose whether Walgreen admitted any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.  The allegations against Walgreen resulted from a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by Daniel Bieurance and Neil Thompson, two pharmacists in Minneapolis. Under the settlement, the pharmacists will receive a combined $1.44 million.

Source:   Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report

September 30, 2008 in Medicaid | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ADA strengthened with recently signed amendments

ADA Amendments Act of 2008

On September 25, President Bush signed the “ADA Amendments Act of 2008,” (S. 3406) into law.  The new law reinforces the original objectives in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of eliminating discrimination against individuals with disabilities by requiring a broad scope of protection.  Prior to these amendments, the Supreme Court denied ADA protection to individuals who have partial physical disabilities, as well as those with physical disabilities that could be treated with medication (e.g., cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cancer) or assistive devices (e.g., prosthetic limbs, oxygen therapy equipment, hearing aids and glasses).

S.3406 directs the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to revise current ADA regulations defining a disability as those that “substantially limit” life activities.  Instead, the EEOC must use a less restrictive interpretation of the definition of a disability, to be consistent with the original intent of Congress.

 

September 30, 2008 in Discrimination | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mental health parity bill clears House

Congress approved legislation yesterday that would require private insurers to provide the same level of benefits for mental illness as they do for physical maladies, a change lauded by advocates as a great shift in the nation's understanding of mental health.

"We've always had a stigma, sort of like mental illness is a character flaw," said Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and co-sponsored the House version with Rep. Jim Ramstad  (R-Minn.), a recovering alcoholic. "But now science has moved forward, and we can see the complexities in the brain that lead to eating disorders, compulsive disorders. All these connections are being made, the science is just becoming so firm. And it destroys the myth that this stuff is a choice."

The measure has received strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate and has the backing of business, insurance companies, health advocates, the medical community and the White House.  But its passage into law was not ensured last night.

Source: Washington Post.

September 24, 2008 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tribute to Del Martin

Here's the start of a recent post from the Elder Abuse Prevention Blog:

“When you add our society’s propensity toward violence with ageism and sexism, you have a dangerous situation.”Del Martin, 1995

The flags at San Francisco’s City Hall flew at half-mast on August 28 in memory of Del Martin, a pioneering figure in the fight for the rights of women, lesbians, survivors of domestic violence, and the elderly. Her seminal book Battered Wives, published in 1976 and updated in 1981 (Volcano Press), has been acclaimed as the first to explore domestic violence in the United States. In it, Del made the case that domestic violence wasn’t grounded in interpersonal dynamics but rather, in historical attitudes toward women, economy inequalities, and inadequacies in the legal and social service systems. Just two months before her death at the age of 87, she was still making history. She and her partner, Phyllis Lyon, were the first gay couple to be "remarried" when the California Supreme Court declared marriage for same-sex couples a fundamental right. Their earlier marriage, along with thousands of others, was nullified four years ago.

In the mid 1990s  I interviewed Del for nexus, a publication for affiliates of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. At the time, she was serving on the Advisory Committee for the San Francisco Consortium for Elder Abuse’s “Developing Services for Older Battered Women,” a pilot project funded by the Administration on Aging (DHHS) to explore the link between elder abuse and domestic violence. Her insights and advice are as relevant to our field today as they were when we spoke 13 years ago.

Domestic Violence Activist Speaks out on Elder Abuse
The domestic violence movement has always been a grass roots, self help movement. In the early days, many feminists who had given up on the system got involved. To a great extent, it was women who had left abusive relationships who ran the shelters and led the movement. At one point, we even had an underground railroad to send women who were leaving abusive relationships to other states with other identities. Some women would go from state to state to get away from abusive men. Just leaving a relationship doesn’t mean a woman is free.

Read more:  http://preventelderabuse.blogspot.com/

September 24, 2008 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

British veteran united with WWII medals lost in the Thames

A 93-year-old veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation has been reunited with war medals after they were recovered by scuba divers from the River Thames.  Charles Brown lost two rows of medals last Sunday as he boarded a boat during the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships cruise from Kingston to Weybridge.  Mr Brown said he was "emotional" about the medals which included an OBE, a Dunkirk and Normandy campaign medal.  Divers from Teddington Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) found them.

Source/more:  BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7626564.stm

September 20, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

AARP International Newsletter-Sept.-TOC

Global Perspectives on Family Caregiving

On the occasion of the global celebration of the United Nations International Day of Older Persons, AARP, the National Alliance for Caregiving, and the United Nations Programme on Ageing will host a meeting to discuss the latest pertinent issues on family caregiving. - Oct. 1, 2008, United Nations Headquarters, N.Y.

Reshaping Health & Financial Security for the EU 27 and Eastern Europe

AARP International and the European Centre-Vienna will facilitate a pan-European approach to "reinventing retirement," with a particular emphasis on the new member states of the European Union, and the socioeconomic consequences of aging for these countries. - Oct. 23-24, 2008, Dürnstein, Austria

Experiences Abroad: Health Care Reform in The Netherlands

The Netherlands is undergoing a reform in health care, concerning both the insurance market and the care-purchase market. The nation is using competition and a certain amount of regulation to pursue what many in the United States-especially interesting in this year of Presidential elections-hunger to achieve: health insurance for everyone. We are coupling universal coverage with incentives and controls to prevent a cost explosion. - A "Perspectives" Column by Ab Klink, Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, The Netherlands

Special Report: Aging in China

"Today, behind the country's rush to modernization, the tumult of the summer Olympics in Beijing, and the aftermath of May's earthquake, China's families and government are scrambling to find new ways to provide for their elderly." - An AARP Bulletin Special Report.

Now Available: Forum on the Future Workforce, Executive Summary

Employers are pursuing new approaches to reengineer the workplace, re-career older workers, recast public perceptions about aging, and restructure the regulatory environment to create incentives for continued employment. To explore these strategies, AARP and the European Commission convened experts and innovators representing government, industry, and social partners for an international forum on June 23-24, 2008 in Brussels, Belgium. - Executive Summary Now Available

Read the full publication here.

September 19, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CMS will launch new "Ask Medicare" site

Via Neil Hendershot's Elder, Estate, and Fiduciary Law Blog:

On September 18, 2008, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will launch its new online service offering "information, tools, and materials to assist caregivers in making informed healthcare decisions."

The new resource was announced in a Press Release issued by CMS on September 15, 2008, entitled "Medicare Launches New Caregiving Initiative" posted by MarketWatch, Yahoo, Reuters, InsuranceNewsNet, and other media services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with representatives from partner organizations, will launch a new online Medicare caregiver initiative providing information, tools and materials to help family caregivers. The effort will be launched with a Webcast where forum participants will take questions from caregivers and highlight personal stories and experiences. * * *

September 17, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Could mental health parity be in the offing?

   Lawmakers will try to move mental health parity legislation by attaching it to a tax bill that will be addressed by the Senate this week, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 9/17).  Lawmakers reached an agreement in July that would combine the House and Senate mental health parity bills by removing a House mandate on coverage of specific mental health conditions in favor of one that would require that mental health benefits be equal to physical health benefits. No funding mechanism was included in the agreement (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 9/10).  The parity bill currently is being considered by the Senate Finance Committee, which has been charged with finding funding offsets. The House passed a similar bill this summer that would offset the cost by placing restrictions on physician-owned hospitals.

According to a Republican Senate staffer, funding possibilities discussed last week include a one-year extension of a federal unemployment insurance tax paid by employers, which would generate $1.5 billion; a one-year delay in implementing new rules governing the way companies allocate interest in calculating foreign tax deductions, which would raise $3 billion; and codification of the "so-called Economic Substance Doctrine" that could decrease business' ability to get tax exemptions and generate between $4 billion and $15 billion, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 9/17). 

The tax bill (S 3001), which would extend dozens of expired provisions, expand incentives for alternative energy and eliminate the alternative minimum tax for millions of U.S. residents, could reach the Senate floor as early as Wednesday night, according to CQ HealthBeat. Passage is "not a sure thing," although with the "blessing of both parties' leaders" and committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), "action could be swift," CQ HealthBeat reports (Rubin, CQ HealthBeat, 9/16). 

                         

September 17, 2008 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming Event: Student Health Law Conference: Taking the Health Law Career Path

Student Health Law Conference: Taking the Health Law Career Path

 

October 17, 2008
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
3900 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA

The American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law will co-sponsor the second annual conference aimed at law students entitled: Taking the Health Law Career Path: Student Conference and Job Fair. The one-day conference will take place on October 17, 2008 at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pittsburgh, PA.

In its first year, the conference was quite successful with over 150 participants. This year we hope to continue to build on the foundation formed last year and grow the conference. The conference is an outreach program that aims to involve law students in ASLME and to expose students to various careers available in the field of health law.

Topics covered will include:

  • What Do Health Lawyers Do?
  • How to contact Prospective Employers - The Logistics of the Health Law Job Search
  • Who Does Health Law in the Federal Government, State, County, and Local Government, Trade Associations, Nonprofits, Consulting Firms, Insurance Companies, and Small Firms
  • Starting You Own Firm
  • Nontraditional Jobs for Health Lawyers
  • Telecommuting

Featured Speaker: Donna Gerson, author of Choosing Small, Choosing Smart, Job Search Strategies for Lawyers in the Small Firm Market

Click here to view the Conference Panels.

For general information on conferences and events at the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, click here

September 17, 2008 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ACTEC/ALI-ABA host webcast on ethical issues in estate planning

Second Annual

ACTEC/ALI-ABA Live Telephone Seminar/Audio Webcast

Top Ten Ethical Challenges Facing Estate Planners

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Eastern 12 noon – 2 pm | Central 11 am – 1 pm | Mountain 10 am – 12 noon
Pacific & Arizona 9 am – 11 am |

Alaska

 8 am - 10 am |

Hawaii

 6 am – 8 am

What are the toughest ethical questions you will face in your trust and estate practice? What does an estate planning practitioner need to know now to identify and avoid potential ethics violations and legal malpractice in the future?

In this convenient live telephone seminar/audio

webcast

, a panel of nationally known ACTEC experts addresses 10 tough ethics questions in a fast-paced discussion of common ethical issues lawyers encounter in trust and estate practice, including:
 

· Representing clients who reside in a state in which the estate planning attorney is not licensed.

· Representing multiple parties such as husbands and wives or family members in different generations.

· Representing clients in various asset protection strategies.

· Representing clients with diminished capacity

· Making sure that the representation of a client is effective and timely and keeping the client informed of the work and charging reasonable fees for the work.

This interactive seminar offers you the opportunity to ask questions of the faculty before and during the program. The discussion will be based on ACTEC’s Fourth Edition, Commentaries on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, accessible free of charge at www.actec.org/public/CommentariesPublic.asp.

 

Need ethics credit? This seminar qualifies for 2.0 to 2.4 ethics credit hours, depending on state requirements, in MCLE jurisdictions that accredit live telephone seminars and/or webcasts. 

Tuition: $139 regular/$89 ACTEC Fellows. To register online, go to www.ali-aba.org/RSPJ01/. ACTEC Fellows should enter the coupon code “ACTEC” in the shopping cart system upon check-out to receive the ACTEC Fellow discount.

FACULTY

Professor Mary F. Radford, Moderator, Georgia State University, Atlanta

Charles D. Fox IV, McGuireWoods, LLP, Charlottesville, VA 

Hugh F. Kendall, Kendall Van Dolson, Chattonooga TN

September 17, 2008 in Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Iris Freeman to join core faculty of Center for Elder Justice and Policy

September 5, 2008

The Center for Elder Justice and Policy at William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, is pleased to announce the appointment of

                                  Iris C. Freeman, MSW
                                                  as

                                     Adjunct Professor

Iris C. Freeman is a Public Policy Consultant with Advocacy Strategy in Minneapolis, MN, representing seniors, professional, and labor organizations.  As Community Faculty at the University of Minnesota Graduate School of Social work, she teaches classes in Community Practice, Advanced Community Organizing and Advocacy.  In 2002, she was honored by the University of Minnesota School of Social Work as its Alumna of the Year.  She directed the Advocacy Center for Long-Term Care for over 20 years and was Director of Public Policy at the Alzheimer's Association, Minnesota-Dakotas Chapter from 2000-2003.  She has brought long-term care consumer perspectives to state and local working groups and lawmakers since the 1970's and worked for the 1980 passage of Minnesota’s first Vulnerable Adult Act.   She publishes widely in professional journals and serves on local and national boards and advisory committees, including two terms on the Board of Directors of the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

During the fall 2008 semester, Professor Freeman will coordinate work between the Center and the Vulnerable Adults Act community stakeholder group led by the ElderCare Rights Alliance.  The VAA Stakeholders Group was organized in the fall of 2007 with a goal of revising and strengthening Minnesota’s Vulnerable Adult Act. Professor Freeman will help design a three year advocacy strategy to amend the VAA and implement educational initiatives.  She will coordinate efforts to prepare the stakeholders for action during the 2009 legislative session, by focusing priorities and building support for legislative proposals, as well as identifying and working to minimize opposition.

During the 2009 semester, Professor Freeman will co-teach the Elder Justice and Policy Keystone, an elder-justice focused policy clinic and seminar that develops students’ competencies in policy practice as well as deepening their understanding of the legislative process and policy implementation.  She will also serve to coordinate advocacy efforts on the ElderCare Rights Alliance Stakeholders’ 2009 legislative proposal.

Throughout the year, she will mentor students in their Center placements and projects, with advice and by facilitating networking opportunities with administrative agencies, legislators, legislative staff, and human services professionals.

For further information, contact
Kim Dayton, Professor of Law and
Director, Center for Elder Justice and Policy
kim.dayton@wmitchell.edu
651.290.6410

September 6, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)