Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Report from 2020 AALS Annual Meeting Section on Aging and the Law

For the last few years, I've found myself with conflicts during semester breaks that interfered with attending the AALS Annual Meeting.  So I was especially happy this year to attend and catch up with long-time and new friends, especially those who work in fields relevant to elder law.  

The annual meeting kicked off for me with a Joint Session hosted by the Sections on Aging and the the Law, Civil Rights, Family & Juvenile Law, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, and Immigration Law.  The collaborative event offered lots of interesting "Emerging Issues in Elder Law," with speakers including:

Mark Bauer, Stetson Law, who spoke about recent enforcement efforts to combat elder exploitation, and pointed to a lingering weakness associated with banks that make SARS reports that never go beyond the regulatory body, and therefore never reach first responders, such as local police.  He talked about support for a state-wide effort in Florida to improve police reports to make it easier to identify abusers who target older persons.  He also called for better record-keeping for sales of gift cards, as these have become the number 1 method that telephone scammers get older adults to send them money.  

Wendy Parmet, Northeastern University School of Law, who focused on the impact of immigration laws and policies on the health of older adults, including attempts by the current administration to change the definition of "public charge" to include anyone who could receive any public benefits whatsoever,  thereby expanding the the pool of inadmissible immigrants and further restricting eligibility for legal permanent residency.  She traced the impacts of such policies on older adults once eligible for family reunification, on older citizens overall, and on a nation that once took pride in providing help to immigrants who were "tired and poor."

Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, Duquesne Law, who talked about how some states are not applying sentencing reforms to elderly offenders, even though such inmates statistically are at the least risk of reoffending and, at 19% of the total prison population, are often generating care costs that are unsustainable.  I learned, sadly, that my own state of Pennsylvania is one of the states that is not yet making significant progress on sentencing reforms for older adults.

Rachel Lopez, Drexel University Law, who is director of Drexel's Stern Community Lawyering Clinic, carried forward the theme of needed prison reforms for older inmates, reporting the latest events that follow the Graterford Think Tank Prison Project in Pennsylvania, and making the sobering observation that the most effective argument may not be one that sounds in human rights or human dignity, but the demonstration that return to the community for aging and ill residents saves the state money.  

Naomi Cahn, George Washington Law, who is also the incoming chair for the AALS Section on Law and Aging, presented facts and figures on "gray divorce," especially with respect to financial impacts on women.  She urged a de-coupling of Social Security benefits from marriage (or perhaps marriage longevity requirements), arguing that Social Security credits should be available for time spent as caregivers.  

Browne Lewis, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, pointed to the emerging issue of "reproductive rights" for older individuals, identifying jurisdictions that restrict women's access to assisted reproductive technologies (ART) including placing age or time restrictions on use of banked or stored eggs.

For faculty members who would like to be part of next year's Law and Aging program at the 2021 AALS Annual meeting in San Francisco, contact Naomi Cahn with your topics and interest.  

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2020/01/report-from-2020-aals-annual-meeting-section-on-aging-and-the-law.html

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