Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aging with Dignity Offers Free Resources for National Healthcare Decisions Day Events

National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD) is April 16th, the date set aside each year to encourage everybody over age 18 to discuss and plan ahead of a serious illness. Five Wishes makes it easy because it is written in everyday language and deals with the things people care about most: their comfort, maintaining their dignity and other personal, spiritual and family matters.
  
Interested in $25 worth of free resources?

If you send us a photo and short account of your NHDD event or family gathering we'll give you a $25 credit for Five Wishes resources. Use this credit for a free DVD or to get copies of the 26 language translations of Five Wishes, pediatric documents, discussion guides, presenters guides, or access to Five Wishes Online. Get more information and tell us about your event here. Submit before May 15 to receive your credit.

NHDD button

NHDD buttons and stickers = more visibility for your good efforts:
If you're thinking about doing a community event, we want to help ensure it is a success, so we're again offering you a limited number of free "Five Wishes - Have You Signed Yours?" buttons and stickers. Just send us a message here, and we'll get the buttons and stickers to you.
 
NHDD Five Wishes

Five Wishes can deliver your message.  Don't miss the chance to customize the back cover of Five Wishes with your organization's logo and message. To receive your customized documents in time for NHDD, please complete your request by March 14 (that's the end of next week!).

More Info Here

March 11, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Health Care/Long Term Care, Legal Practice/Practice Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

National Study of Long-Term Care Providers Report

National Study of Long-Term Care Providers Report

This report presents descriptive results from the first wave of the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, (NSLTCP) which was conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Data presented in this report are drawn from five sources: NCHS surveys of adult day services centers and residential care communities, and administrative records obtained from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on home health agencies, hospices, and nursing homes.

The report provides information on the supply, organizational characteristics, staffing, and services offered by providers of long-term care services; and the demographic, health, and functional composition of users of these services. Service users include residents of nursing homes and residential care communities, patients of home health agencies and hospices, and participants of adult day services centers. NSLTCP will be conducted every other year starting in 2012. Key

Findings:

  • In 2012, about 58,500 paid, regulated long-term care services providers served about 8 million people in the United States.
  • Provider sectors differed in ownership, and average size and supply varied by region. Rates of use of long-term care services varied by sector and state.
  • Users of long-term care services varied by sector in their demographic and health characteristics and functional status.

More info/access the report here

March 10, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Study Documents Relationship Between Parental Caregiving and Reduced Economic Welfare

Article:  The Vicious Cycle of Parental Caregiving and Financial Well-being: A Longitudinal Study of Women

Authors:  Yeonjung Lee1, Fengyan Tang2, Kevin H. Kim3 and Steven M. Albert4

Abstract:  This study examines the relationship between caring for older parents and the financial well-being of caregivers by investigating whether a reciprocal association, or vicious cycle, exists between female caregiver’s lower household incomes and caring for elderly parents. Data for women aged 51 or older with at least 1 living parent or parent-in-law were drawn from the Health and Retirement Survey 2006, 2008, and 2010 (N = 2,093). A cross-lagged panel design was applied with structural equation modeling.   The authors found support for the reciprocal relationship between parental caregiving and lower household income. Female caregivers were more likely than noncaregivers to be in lower household income at later observation points. Also, women with lower household income were more likely than women with higher household income to assume caregiving at later observation points. 

This study suggests that there exists a vicious cycle of parental care and lower household income among women. A key concern for policy is female caregivers’ financial status when care of older parents is assumed and care burden when women’s financial status declines.

Read the full article in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B

March 10, 2014 in Discrimination, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ACL releases fact sheets on advance health care planning via the ElderCare Locator

The Administration for Community Living recently published a series of fact sheets related to advance care planning on the Elder Care Locator. The Fact Sheets are designed to help older adults and their families plan for the care they want when they have a serious illness. The Fact Sheets are about care planning generally, care during advanced cancer and dementia, family caregivers, and the services that can help families during serious illness. Each one provides links to additional resources that may assist families as they face serious illness. View the fact sheets and access downloadable pdf copies here.

March 5, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

"Choosing Wisely" -- Recommendations for Medications & Treatments in Senior Care

The American Geriatrics Society and the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation have joined in a venture called "Choosing Wisely," and recently issued "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question." 

The items are intended to stimulate more thoughtful decision making, especially in dementia care, and address diet, restraints, and use of screening tests.  Two items that hit home include:

  • Don't prescribe cholinesterase inhibitors for dementia without periodic assessment for perceived cognitive benefits and adverse gastrointestinal effects.
  • Don't prescribe any medication without conducting a drug regimen review.

This "Five Things" list was actually the second set of "Choosing Wisely" recommendations.  Here's a link to the important first list, which includes the concern about off-label prescriptions of antipsychotic medications to treat symptoms in dementia, a topic that has also been the subject of major whistleblower cases and settlements involving the pharmaceutical industry. 

March 5, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

$2.8 Billion Merger of Brookdale and Emeritus Creates Mega-National Senior Care Corporation

The official press release issued on February 20 confirmed big news in the senior care industry about the merger of Brookdale Senior Living, based in Tennessee, and Emeritus Senior Living, originally headquartered in Seattle.  Here are some of the details, as reported in the Nashville Business Journal:

"The company's corporate headquarters will remain in Nashville, and members of Emeritus' senior management team are expected to stay on board at the combined company. The merger will expand Brookdale's unit capacity by two-thirds, pushing the company into 10 new states. In total, the combined company will have operating capacity of approximately 112,700 units in 1,161 communities in 46 states. Following the merger, a Brookdale community will be within 10 miles of 6.5 million seniors 80 years or older, according to the release."

Emeritus earlier attracted high-profile press when it became one of the subjects of a Frontline series on "Life and Death in Assisted Living," by Pro-Publica.  According to the Nashville Business Journal, as reportedly confirmed after news of the merger, "federal investigators are investigating Emeritus' business dealings, including its Medicaid billing practices."

It would seem this merger will continue to generate news for some time to come, as suggested by this press release from securities lawyers Deans & Lyons. 

March 4, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

AARP launches state legislative campaign for caregivers

Via AARP:

AARP recently launched a new multi-state caregiving advocacy campaign, with nearly every AARP State Office involved.  Working with governors, state legislators, other policymakers and community partners, we’re determined to advance policy options that will help family caregivers.  Two significant components of the campaign are:

The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act.

10 AARP State Offices are working to pass CARE Act  through state legislation and/or regulation this year, with Oklahoma and Hawaii leading the way.

  • In Oklahoma SB 1536 – the Oklahoma version of the CARE Act – just passed the Senate and will be heard in the House soon.    Meanwhile, Governor Mary Fallin declared this month as “February Caregiver Month” to   honor the state’s 600,000 family caregivers.
  • AARP Hawaii, is urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass Senate Bill 2264, the Hawaii equivalent of the CARE Act.  AARP members in Hawaii are now contacting members of the committee asking them to support the 169,000 family caregivers in the state by passing Senate Bill 2264.

By passing the CARE Act these states will ensure that:

  • The name of the family caregiver is recorded when a loved one is admitted into a hospital or rehabilitation facility.
  • The family caregiver is notified if the loved one is to be discharged to another facility or back home.
  • The facility must provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care, and transfers – that the family caregiver will perform at home.

For more on AARP’s advocacy: AARP Announces 2014 Advocacy Agenda: Across the States.

February 26, 2014 in Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Residents File Class Action Against For-Profit CCRC in California

Last week I blogged about tax questions facing some nonprofit senior living operations, especially nonprofit Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs).  This week, we pass on news of a federal court suit filed by residents of a for-profit CCRC, challenging the company's accounting and allocation of fees, especially entrance fees, paid by the residents.

Residents of Vi of Palo Alto (formerly operating in Palo Alto as "Classic Residences by Hyatt") in California are challenging what could be described as "upstream" diversion of corporate assets to the parent company, CC-Palo Alto Inc.  They contend the diversion includes money which should have been protected to fund local operations or to secure promised "refunds" of entrance fees.  Further, the residents allege the diversion of money has triggered a higher tax burden on the local operation, a burden they allege has improperly increased the monthly maintenance fees also charged to residents.  According to the February 10, 2014 complaint, Vi of Palo Alto is running a multi-million dollar deficit and the residents point to the existence of actuarial opinions that support their allegations. The complaint alleges breach of contract, common law theories of concealment, misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty, and statutory theories of misconduct, including alleged violation of California's Elder Abuse laws.   

Representatives of the company deny the allegations, as reported in detail in Senior Housing News on February 23.  A previous resident class action filed in state court against a Classic Residence of Hyatt CCRC, now called Vi of La Jolla, also in California, settled in 2008

February 26, 2014 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Very Well-Intentioned, but Dangerous, Promise?

One of my frequent travel routes is to drive between Carlisle and Baltimore, in order to take direct flights from BWI to Phoenix, where my parents live. Usually these drives are in the middle of the night, as I try to avoid traffic by scheduling very early or late flights. One positive aspect of this travel is the time to discover interesting radio programs; there is something about listening to radio in the dark that allows one to hear more clearly.  Last week, I lingered in the car after reaching the long-term airport parking, to listen to the end of an especially effective interview.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook, was hosting Kimberly Williams-Paisley who spoke movingly about her family as they coped with her mother's early onset of a form of dementia, diagnosed at age 61.  For those of you who enjoy either movies or music, you might recognize Kimberly as an actress from Father of the Bride (she was the daughter driving Steve Martin to wit's end) and Nashville, or as the wife of country music star Brad Paisley.  Also featured on the program was a clinical social worker, Darby Morhardt, who is an associate professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The program was very thoughtful and emotional, but for me the most compelling words came from Kimberly's father, Gurney Williams. 

This is a man deeply in love with his wife and also deeply affected by her condition.  At first he tried to hide her diagnosis, but over time, this became more and more difficult.  Mr. Williams describes how he finally came to terms with the need for help -- and the need for more than family help -- when his children staged a bit of an intervention.  They asked him to recognize that his wife's condition, which in her case included confusion, mood swings, anger and -- at times -- violence, was more than they could cope with in the home.  They were worried about their mother, but even more devastated by "losing" their father as he struggled to care for her.  With the family's help, he finally made the difficult decision to place his wife in a formal care setting. 

And it was during his description of the journey, that I heard the words I've also heard many times from friends, family, students and clients.  "I promised my loved one I would never put her in one of those places." I have come to recognize this promise as completely well-intentioned, but also potentially dangerous for all involved.

Listening to Mr. Williams and Kimberly, you could tell formal care was the right decision and they were able to find the right kind of care facility for their loved one.  And it was a decision that allowed all of them to find a new way to express their love and devotion to her, while also providing her with a supportive, safe environment. Kimberly talks about how she stopped talking about her mother in the past tense, rediscovered her and how they created a new, valuable relationship.  Their story has a happy evolution, which, of course, is different than a happy ending.

One of the reasons I was so affected by listening to Mr. William's words, was that I was on my way to the airport to visit my father -- to see him for the first time --  after his transfer to a dementia-care community.  All of my fears and hopes were bound up in my listening.  On arriving in the airport I went directly to a shop and bought a copy of the March issue of Redbook Magazine, which carried the story by Kimberly Williams-Paisley that led to the invitation for her and her father to be guests on the On Point program. I read and re-read "How I Faced My Mother's Dementia" on the plane -- and shared her words with my mother when I arrived. 

I suspect I might write more about my own evolution with my father. Right now it is easier for me to recommend the article, and to say the podcast of the On Point show is even better than the article.  

February 25, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Growth in Senior Living Projects: A Leading Indicator of Improving Economy?

Levin Associates is hosting one of their periodic Senior Living webinars, with the intriguing title, "Senior Living: New Construction Heats Up."  The explanation for the program:

"New construction is picking up in some markets after the near standstill caused by the recession, although developers seem more favorable to building needs-driven models of seniors housing—assisted living and memory care facilities—rather than independent living communities. Yet, there's also an interest in niche development—university partnerships, for example."

On a seemingly related note, Erickison Living announced earlier this month the start of  construction of "Lantern Hill," a new CCRC community in Union County, New Jersey.  The plan is to open in the second half of 2015, which would appear to be one of Erickson's  first new starts since it emerged from bankruptcy court in 2010 with new owners. 

The Levin Associates webinar is set for March 13 at 1 p.m. ET, with developers and architects, brokers and financers scheduled to speak, including individuals from Greystone, Perkins Eastman, and CBRE, Inc.  

February 24, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Nonprofit Continuing Care Communities: Exempt from State & Local Taxes?

As introduced in an earlier post, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs, also sometimes operating as Life Care Communities or LCCs) are frequently organized and operated as 501(c)(3) entities, exempt from federal income taxes.  However, in several states, authorities have opposed exemption from state or local taxes, especially real estate taxes.  The campuses of high-end CCRCs can be tempting targets for revenue-hungry local governing units.

Pennsylvania has been a hotbed of such challenges, with the latest ruling issued in Albright Care Services v. Union County Board of Assessment, decided by the Commonwealth Court, an intermediate court of appeals, on January 29, 2014.  In Pennsylvania, the question of exemptions from real estate taxes depends on at least two sets of criteria, including (A) proof of operation as an "Institution of Purely Public Charity" or IPPC, and (B) "parcel reviews," to determine whether individual components of property are "actually and regularly used for the identified charitable purposes."  

The irony is an operation can be sufficiently "charitable" in nature to qualify for exemption from federal income taxes (and thus usually state income taxes) but not so "charitable" as to qualify for state exemptions that demand more rigorous proof of allegiance to mission. 

In Albright, the Commonwealth Court affirmed findings that the company, operating two CCRCs, qualified as an IPPC, thus distinguishing recent rulings that denied real estate exemptions for two other nonprofit continuing care operations, Dunwood Village (2012) and Menno Haven (2007). The Court credited testimony by Albright's accountant on the question of whether the company donated a substantial portion of its services to residents, rejecting the county's argument the CCRCs were reaping a Medicaid "windfall."  

The Court also affirmed the finding that several of Albright's real estate parcels was used to support the charitable mission. It called the independent living facilities a "closer question," but ultimately concluded such units were operated as part of a "comprehensive care scheme" that advanced a unified charitable purpose, citing a 2007 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in Alliance Home of Carlisle v. Board of Assessment Appeals. It remanded for further findings on whether parcels containing a museum and flood plain properties were used to advance the CCRC's charitable purpose.  

The Albright decision was released as an "unreported panel decision" that may be "cited for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent." The Albright decision on CCRCs follows a series of Pennsylvania cases arguing state constitutional implications of exemptions for real property, affecting everything from summer camps to hospitals and universities, including the 4-3 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Mesivtah Eitz Chaim of Bobov v. Pike County Board of Assessments (2012).  In some counties, nonprofits may feel under pressure to enter into "PILOTS," or negotiated agreements for "Payments in Lieu of Taxes," to avoid litigation over exemptions.

February 21, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Outside" Whistleblower in Senior Care Industry to Receive $5.7 Million

In a previous post, I reported on a senior care whistleblower case, where a court ruled that a former corporate officer, who was also the in-house counsel, cannot participate in a False Claims Act suit, if the information supporting the claim comes from privileged communications received in his role as an attorney.  The two other former executives of the company, non-lawyers, could have participated as qui tam plaintiffs; however the entire case was dismissed by the court as a sanction for improper disclosure of attorney-client privileged information.

Most whistleblowers are insiders, either current or former employees; however, that is not always true.  The "relator" (that's False-Claim-Act-speak for whistleblower) in a suit brought against RehabCare, Rehab Systems, and Health Systems, Inc. was the CEO of a competitor, Health Dimensions Rehabilitation, Inc., who first heard about a successful use of "referral fees" during a public conference call hosted by RehabCare. 

 "Pride goeth before a fall," as our mothers might say.  In this case, the CEO's research into the referral fees resulted in allegations the fees were intended to generate referrals of clients covered by Medicare and Medicaid, thus giving rise to alleged violations of the federal Anti-Kickback Act.  The defendants denied all allegations. 

In the RehabCare case, which settled earlier this year for a reported $30 million, the whistleblower, Health Dimensions Rehabilitation, Inc. is in line to receive about $5.7 million from the settlement, according to the U.S. Justice Department. 

Penn State Dickinson School of Law is hosting a half-day program examining "Whistleblower Laws in the 21st Century," on March 20, 2014Speakers include both academic scholars and experienced attorneys who have advised or represented parties in False Claims Act cases in health care, including "senior care." 

February 20, 2014 in Ethical Issues, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

National Council on Aging Offers 5 Ways Congress Can Help Seniors

The National Council on Aging identifies five ways that Congress -- if it could get its act together -- can help seniors in 2014:

  1. Restore funding and modernize aging services, beginning with revitalization of the Older Americans Act, once the central legislation for a national approach to basic safeguards;
  2. Protect low-income Medicare beneficiaries, by securing the viability of  the Medicare Qualified Individual (QI) program, aimed at helping low income individuals (those with incomes between $13,700 and $15,300) take part in Medicare Part B, key to insurance coverage for doctor's visits.
  3. Renew the Farm Bill, including the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to help needy seniors obtain healthy food, a program that in the past has been important to as many as 4 million older adults, as well as younger persons facing food insecurity.
  4. Introduce long-term care legislation -- that focuses on the very real needs for daily assistance (long term "services and supports") , beyond "mere" health care.
  5. Pass immigration reform -- necessary to provide the work force to cope with the predicted needs for care and assistance to aging boomers.

February 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 14, 2014

Call for Papers: Conference on Social Insurance & Life Cycle Events

Via University of Michigan Retirement Research Center, a call for papers connected to an upcoming conference:

With support from AARP, a conference on Social Insurance and Lifecycle Events Among Older Americans will be held on December 5th of 2014 in Washington, DC.

The conference will focus specifically on lifecycle events commonly encountered by older Americans, the responsiveness of current policies to those events, and new thinking about policies consistent with a changing political environment.

The conference will be organized into three sections dealing with the importance of:

  1. changing career/job patterns,
  2. changes in family structure, and
  3. health limitations.

Papers should focus on experiences and policies aimed at addressing Americans age 50 and older and highlight the experiences of different socio-economic groups, with a particular emphasis on the disadvantaged.

Funding is available for domestic travel to the conference for one author of each paper to be presented. It is anticipated that either a special issue of a scholarly journal or an edited volume will be produced based on papers delivered at the conference.

Paper proposals for the conference should be sent to Professor Kenneth Couch by March 15, 2014. Authors will be notified of acceptances by April 15, 2014. Drafts of papers to be presented at the conference will be due by the end of October. Additional details here. 

February 14, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Programs/CLEs, Retirement, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Am I My Brother's (and My Parent's) Keeper, Even If Neither Wants Me?

Recently an individual contacted me with a fact pattern to present on our Blog, a variation on what we've written about in the past.  Here are the basics.  I've assigned some gender roles to make the fact pattern easier to follow: 

The daughter of an older parent wants to know whether she has a legal "duty" to interfere with her brother's role in the life of their parent, where it appears the brother is failing to either apply for Medicaid or otherwise pay the parent's rehabilitation facility.  The parent is not unhappy with the son's actions (or rather, inaction), and in fact declined to give power of attorney to the daughter, even when told of a likely "eviction" for nonpayment of the bill. The parent has mostly recovered from the medical crisis that triggered the need for care -- and just wants to go home. Parent has made it clear to daughter that her help is "unnecessary."

The complication is the size of the unpaid bill, more than $100,000.  Apparently the care facility, approved to receive Medicare and Medicaid, is now demanding that the daughter pay the bill.   Apparently no one applied for Medicaid and it is unclear whether Medicare ever paid.  Daughter doesn't know much about her parent's income, but assumes it is limited and probably the only asset is a house, where the widowed parent lives when not in a hospital or in a care facility, and where the brother also resides.

The rehab facility is in Pennsylvania, home to "filial support" laws that have been enforced against adult children, with or without evidence of fault on the part of the child who is sued. Under Pennsylvania's law, those with statutory standing to pursue a support claim include a "person" who has provided care or maintenance, and that has been interpreted to include residential care facilities.  We've discussed tough filial support decisions before on this Blog, including Health Care & Retirement Corp. of America, v. Pittas, (Pa. Super. Ct. 2012).

Thus, a lawyer is probably going to have to break the bad news to the daughter that the facility arguably has a potentially viable claim under 23 Pa.C.S.A. Section 4603.   Daughter would appear to have some equitable defenses, including laches, but nothing that is expressly provided in the Pennsylvania statute.  But who can afford to defend such a case?  The facility appears to be  using the child's potential liability under filial support laws to insist the daughter take action, either to obtain a guardianship or other order that would permit her (force her?) to apply for Medicaid -- and the threat may work. The longer she waits, the tougher it will be to get sufficient retroactive coverage.  But in this instance, it is not clear whether the parent's capacity is impaired, or whether the parent is simply following a long pattern, even if unwise, of preferring one child's "help" over the other. 

The moral question of "Am I my brother's keeper," becomes a Family Keeper's Dilemma, when you add in the third part of the triangle, a parent in need of care or protection, against their will.  And the moral question becomes a legal liability question, when a filial support law that permits third-party suits is involved. 

For another Family Keeper's Dilemma, see the Washington Court of Appeals' January 14 decision, "published in part," in the case of In re Knight, addressing the level of proof required for one son to obtain a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order, to prevent his brother, with a mental health history and a criminal record, from continuing to live with or near their 83-year-old mother.  The mother opposed the protection order.    

February 9, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, State Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Corner Drug Store: Ending Tobacco Sales and Increasing its Visibility as a Health Care Clinic

CVS Caremark is drawing a lot of attention with the recent announcement of its decision to stop selling tobacco products in its drug store operations.  Many, including the NYT and McKnights, are highlighting this decision as a pro-health measure, and certainly that should be true.  News coverage of CVS suggests that other drug store chains are considering whether to adopt the same policy. But, the decision also highlights CVS' role in a major consumer trend; consumers are seeking what might be called retail health care at the corner drug store.  This trend is arguably a move away from, or at least a major supplement to, a more traditional setting where a primary care physician's office is the access point for health care assessments.  CVS' decision is part of its enhanced image as "health care provider."

I've been fascinated to see the popularity, especially among my parents' generation (in their 80s!), of using the "clinic" at the drug store to get complaint-specific treatment.  Ease of access is certainly a major part of the appeal.  I suspect that another factor is the decision of many trusted family physicians to retire.  Indeed, my parents have now outlived the working lives of several sets of doctors. 

At the same time, I worry about what might be missed when a customer uses the local drugstore "clinic" for a specific complaint -- and when those visits start to multiply.  The pharmacy clinic does not have the decades of records that can help to explain a patient's symptoms and progress.  Are there missed opportunities for whole person health care? And is the drug store clinic potentially "eager" to prescribe -- and sell -- drugs? 

February 6, 2014 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Practical and Compassionate Guide to Sexuality & Dementia

An important new book, Sexuality and Dementia: Compassionate & Practical Strategies for Dealing with Unexpected or Inappropriate Behaviors, published in December 2013, offers a physician's candid assessment of a topic often discussed, if at all, only in hushed tones.

Reading the first chapter called to mind a colleague in aging studies, a nurse, who related to me how a tearful woman once asked her how to hire a prostitute, as her husband was in the mid-stages of dementia and constantly wanted sex. The wife as the home caregiver was, in a word, exhausted. This book recognizes that a wide range of sexual behaviors often accompany dementia.  Sexual agression is sometimes even a sign that something has changed in the individual's cognitive functioning, only later recognized as an early step in the process of dementia.

The author, Geriatric Neuropsychiatrist Douglas Wornell, is quite critical of the medical profession's approach -- or rather a frequent failure to even discuss -- the topic.  Dr. Wornell observes that "to date, patients and their partners have been virtually abandoned by an entire medical system that has provided little to help them with sexuality as it relates to dementia. Considering the numbers of people affected -- tens of thousands of people in my practice alone -- that abandonment is nothing more than shocking."

The book is written in plain terms, covering everything from the "neurobiology of sex and dementia" to the potential for medication to stimulate -- or alleviate -- the condition, while also discussing the impact of the behaviors in the home and in more formal care settings. 

February 5, 2014 in Cognitive Impairment, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative Helps People with Disabilities Find Health Insurance

The American Association on Health and Disability has launched a new website that aims to help personw with disabilities secure health insurance.  Navigators and other enrollment specialists can now access better information to help people with disabilities find health care coverage in the federal and state exchanges. The tools are cross-disability programs developed by the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative (NDNRC). The 12-month collaborative was made possible by a one-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

 

The navigator website was launched December 1, 2013 at www.nationaldisabilitynavigator.org. There is also an accompanying training guide, the Guide to Disability for Healthcare Insurance Marketplace Navigators. The guide describes the barriers to health insurance people with disabilities have encountered in the past, how disability laws affect the marketplace, what navigators need to know about disability, and much more. It is available at: http://www.nationaldisabilitynavigator.org/ndnrc-materials/disability-guide/.

 

The recently launched website also features the latest health coverage news and resources of interest to those helping consumers with disabilities find health coverage (and to consumers as well). The website also features a blog, which, among other things, gives everyone the opportunity to tell their own health coverage enrollment story. In the near future, the website will publish 17 fact sheets with more information on disability-specific issues and individual state information as well.

More info here.

February 4, 2014 in Consumer Information, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Indiana App. Ct. Rejects Liability for Daughter Signing NH Contract as "Responsible Party"

On January 30, 2014, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a ruling in favor of a nursing home, concluding that a daughter who signed the nursing home admission agreement on the line for "responsible party/agent" was not liable for breach of contract where she held no Power of Attorney or other authority to handle her mother's finances. 

In Hutchinson v. Trilogy Health Services LLC, the mother, suffering from cancer and needing constant care after a hospitalization, was admitted to the skilled care facility from November 11, 2011 until February 5, 2012.  She passed away in February 2013.  During the interim, Trilogy sued both the mother and the daughter for breach of contract.  Following a trial, the small claims court entered judgment against the daughter in favor of Trilogy for $2,610 plus court costs.  The amount of the judgment covered costs for "bed hold fees, beauty shop services and respiratory equipment."

In reversing the trial court judgment, the Indiana Court of Appeals cited the lack of any evidence the daughter held power of attorney or that daughter misused her mother's resources, as well as the son-in-law's testimony that a nursing home representative reassured his wife at the time of signing that she was not incurring personal liability for her mother's costs of care.  The Court of Appeals distinguished the facts from those in cases such as Sunrise Healthcare Corp. v. Azarigian, a Connecticut appellate case decided in 2003, where the daughter held Power of Attorney and used it to make transfers that created ineligibility for Medicaid. 

I hope readers will forgive me for a moment of immodesty for mentioning that the Indiana Court of Appeals also cited my law review article analyzing "responsible party" liability issues. When I wrote that article for the University of Michigan's Journal of Law Reform, it was exactly this set of facts I was pointing to with concern, where an "innocent" family member or other person signs a nursing home's document believing that doing so is necessary to authorize admission, with no intent (and sometimes no personal ability to afford) to pay privately, only later to be sued for "breach of contract" or on statutory theories such as "filial support."

February 4, 2014 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

WHO, WPCA publish "Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life"

Global Atlas of Palliative Care at the End of Life

Published jointly by the World Health Organization and the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance, the Atlas is the first document to map the need for and availability of palliative care globally.

Using maps, graphs and case studies, and drawing on a wealth of resources, the Atlas addresses the following questions:

    What is palliative care?
    Why is palliative care a human rights issue?
    What are the main diseases requiring palliative care?
    What is the need for palliative care?
    What are the barriers to palliative care?
    Where is palliative care currently available?
    What are the models of palliative care worldwide?
    What resources are devoted to palliative care?
    What is the way forward?


This important document shines a light on the need for palliative care globally, and is an excellent tool to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in the global, regional and national health agendas.

Download the Atlas.

You can also help to raise awareness of the Atlas by downloading promotional materials here.


 

February 2, 2014 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)