Thursday, February 13, 2020
Public Charge and Immigrant Seniors
In January, the U.S. Supreme Court removed the nationwide temporary injunction that had prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge immigration rule from taking effect. This means that the public charge rule that DHS finalized last August can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois, where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. DHS announced that it will begin implementing the final rule on February 24th.
The Supreme Court’s decision endangers the health and well-being of older immigrants and their families and cruelly impedes the path to citizenship and family unification. However, it is not a final decision and we must continue to fight to stop this harmful policy from becoming permanent. The multiple cases challenging the underlying legality of the final public charge rule will continue in the courts. DHS has appealed all the district court decisions that issued preliminary injunctions to the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. DHS has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
Justice in Aging and our partners have filed amicus briefs in the Second and Ninth Circuits to ask the court to affirm the district courts’ nationwide injunctions and to highlight the ways in which this rule unfairly targets older immigrants, their families, and caregivers. This webinar, Updates on Public Charge & Older Immigrants, will begin with an overview of the public charge test and how it applies to older adults, discuss the current state of litigation, and provide information on what advocates need to know about the rule’s implementation.
Who should participate:
Aging and legal advocates, advocates serving immigrant communities, community-based providers, and others wanting to learn more about how changes to the public charge test and implementation of the new regulations impact older immigrants.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
International Federation on Aeging Webinar on 1th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing
The UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing has its 11th Session coming up. Prior to that meeting, the International Federation on Aeging, along with the Global Alliance For the Rights of Older People (GAROP) are offering an upcoming webinar on National Advocacy ahead of the 11th Session of the United Nations Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.is holding a webinar on National Advocacy Ahead of the 11th Session of the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing on January 22, 2020 at 7 a.m. est. This webinar will
Provide information for all NGOs engaging in the UN Open-ended Working Group on Ageing (OEWG) process at the national level.
Focus particularly on what national advocacy NGOs can do to influence their governments ahead of the 11thOEWG session in April.
Include updates and insights from a UN perspective and concrete examples of national advocacy from GAROP members.
Click here to register for this program.
Summaries of the prior meetings of the U.N. Working Group can be accessed here.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
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.
January 8, 2020 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Two articles, updating us on two topics important to all of us.
First, statistics. We know women statistically live longer than men,and a recent data report from Pew updates us that this still is true and in many instances women are younger than their husbands. That it means that late in life, many women will be alone. Globally, women are younger than their male partners, more likely to age alone tells us that "[t]he pattern of spousal age gaps – and the fact that women tend to live at least a few years longer than men – helps explain another universal theme: Across the world, women are about twice as likely as men to age alone. One-in-five women ages 60 and older live in a solo household (20%), compared with one-in-ten men (11%)." The report looks at religion and geography to measure the extent of this trend. "Rates of living alone over the age of 60 are tied to many factors, including cultural norms, economic development, levels of education and life expectancy. In countries where governments offer fewer retirement benefits or other support systems for older adults, families may face a greater responsibility to provide care."
The next article is from Sunday's New York Times, on the continuing shortage of geriatricians.Older People Need Geriatricians. Where Will They Come From? notes the long-term shortage of geriatricians and explains their importance, using one real-life example to "spotlight the rising need for geriatricians. These doctors not only monitor and coordinate treatment for the many ailments, disabilities and medications their patients contend with, but also help them determine what’s most important for their well-being and quality of life." There's very little progress on closing this gap, according to the article. "An analysis published in 2018 showed that over 16 years, through academic year 2017-18, the number of graduate fellowship programs that train geriatricians, underwritten by Medicare, increased to 210 from 182. That represents virtually no growth when adjusted for the rising United States population."
The article explains why there aren't more doctors going into the field, including the economics realities. One measure to address the shortage is cross-training.
Medical associations representing cardiologists and oncologists have begun focusing on older patients...
Health systems are adopting age-friendly approaches, like specialized emergency rooms. The American College of Surgeons’ new verification program sets standards hospitals should meet to improve results for older patients.
Last month the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted to reauthorize a $41 million program that educates health professionals in geriatrics; it awaits a floor vote. A companion bill has already passed the House of Representatives.
Health professionals increasingly recognize that if they’re not in pediatrics, they will be seeing lots of seniors, whatever their specialty. A 2016 American Medical Association survey, for example, found that close to 40 percent of patients treated by internists and general surgeons were Medicare beneficiaries.
Pay attention to these issues. They will affect all of us either directly or through a family member.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Kaiser Health News ran an article about the issues Medicare presents for beneficiaries who want to retiree to other countries. Dream Of Retiring Abroad? The Reality: Medicare Doesn’t Travel Well explains the issues:
As the number of American retirees living overseas grows, more of them are confronting choices ... about medical care. If they were living in the United States, Medicare would generally be their coverage option. But Medicare doesn’t pay for care outside the U.S., except in limited circumstances.
Expatriate retirees might find private insurance policies and national health plans in other countries. But these may not provide the high-quality, comprehensive care at an affordable price that retirees expect through Medicare. Faced with imperfect choices, some retirees cobble together different types of insurance, a mix that includes Medicare.
The article notes that the quality of the health care may be dependent on the country, and as the number of U.S. retirees move to other countries, they need to think hard about how they will pay for health care. The article discusses issues with private health insurance policies, the costs and rates, which may be different depending on the country. Even with private health insurance, expats need to look at Medicare as the article explains:
Even when retirees buy a private policy, Medicare is another piece of the puzzle that they have to consider. Once people become eligible for Medicare coverage, usually at age 65, they face a 10% premium penalty for every 12 months they are not enrolled in Part B, which covers outpatient services. (People who are 65 but still covered by an employer plan generally do not face that penalty.)
After paying into the Medicare system for decades, it’s no wonder some expats are frustrated that they can’t generally use the program outside the United States.
That’s just the way the law is written, an official at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said.
And retirees should honestly consider whether they will spend the rest of their lives overseas.
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons has announced an upcoming webinar on August 22, 2019 from 7-8 a.m. edt (yes that's correct 7-8 AM). Here's info about the webinar:
Access to Justice is one of the new areas of older people’s human rights that will be discussed at the 11th session of the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing in New York from 6-9th April 2020. The UN will soon call for written submissions on this topic, which will play an important role in shaping the debates that will happen at the 11th session. A strong civil society response to this consultation is vital. This webinar will explore some of the key issues and barriers around access to justice in older age. It will also offer tips and support on how you can prepare high quality substantive inputs to the upcoming UN consultation.
- Moderator: Susan Somers (INPEA and GAROP Steering Group member)
- Panelist: Bill Mitchell (Townsville Community Legal Service, Australia)
To register for this important webinar, click here.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
I've written about this combination of topics before. I can't quite believe I'm doing so again.
My sister and I lost our last parent on Friday. As with our father, who died in 2017, our mother's final months were complicated by dementia. Thankfully her death was gentle -- she just sort of wound down at age 93 (and 9 months -- isn't it amusing how we start counting the months again, as people tend to do when someone is nearing 5 and a half years of age).
Both of our parents had full and fulfilling lives, or as one of our friends commented, "your mother used the full runway." The care team at an assisted living community that specializes in dementia care came to know both of our parents well, and our bereavement was matched by the tears of many of the individual caregivers, each of whom had their own memory or story to share. As several of them noted, in her last days Mom seemed determined to "find" Dad. And, of course, we like to think she did find him.
But one additional complication was that as our mother reached her last hours, one caregiver who has worked for our family for several years, and that caregiver's mother, who has worked her way from CNA to head of a care team, were both coping with their own worries and grief. Both of them are U.S. citizens, but as is often true in the Southwest, a family member, a husband, is not documented. Recently he was picked up by ICE. No one knows quite where he is yet, but the family members know they are likely to face hard choices once he is deported. The family members must decide how and where they will live. My parents' care team -- and by extension the community of residents at the assisted living center -- could lose two more skilled and devoted caregivers. The fabric of aging care grows ever more fragile.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Previously I had blogged about the legal battle over removing life support from Frenchman, Vincent Lambert. The New York Times reported recently on his death, Vincent Lambert, Frenchman at Center of Right-to-Die Case, Dies at 42.
His family and his spouse disagreed on his wishes. "His wife, Rachel Lambert, said that he had clearly stated that he would not wish to live in a vegetative state. His parents argued that ending his life support amounted to the murder of a disabled person. Siblings and other family members took different sides in the dispute." As the article notes, "[e]uthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in France. But the law allows patients who are terminally ill or injured with no chances of recovery to decide to stop treatments if the measures “appear useless, disproportionate” or if they seem to have no other effect than 'artificially maintaining life.'" An article about the final court decision is available here.
In a related matter, the Judge for the Florida Schiavo case has written a chapter for a book, as explained in this article:
Inside the Terri Schiavo case: Pinellas judge who decided her fate opens up. You should read it.
Monday, July 1, 2019
So last week I posted how elders had an impact on climate change. Now I write about the impact climate change has on elders. In case you weren't aware, there's a heat wave in Europe. In fact, one of my dear friends is teaching in our summer abroad program in Spain and he unexpectedly texted me to tell me how hot it was. So last week's story in the Washington Post on the heatwave in France seems timely.
A heat wave killed 15,000 in France in 2003. As temperatures soar again, officials are taking no chances. explains about the various steps that French authorities are taking to offset the effect of the heatwave hitting their country, These record-breaking temperatures "scientists say are becoming more common in Europe as a result of climate change." Officials in Paris have taken a number of steps to help residents cope with the heat. "The heat particularly threatens children, pregnant women and the elderly, city authorities warn. The city has set up a special phone service for elderly and sick people, and authorities have asked hospitals and retirement homes to be on alert. Older residents left alone made up many of the victims of the 2003 heat crisis." The heat is record-breaking, according to the BBC.
Unusually hot temperatures are not limited to just Europe. The Tampa Bay area of Florida (where the College of Law is located), whose residents are used to hot and humid conditions this time of year, issued a heat advisory on June 26, 2019."[I]t’s rare for temperatures in Florida to climb beyond the low 90s in the summer ... But with a high pressure system in the Atlantic blocking most of those cooling storms... the high ... should reach at least 96 – in the shade. Heat index values, meaning the temperature it feels like outside, will be 104 in Tampa and as high as 110 in the southern Bay Area."
Thursday, May 30, 2019
Here's an inspiration for you. Whether you are a big band aficionado, love swing, rock 'n roll, metal, classical, rap, or something else, your appreciation of music has no age limit. This story made me happy! 2 elderly men sneak out of nursing home to attend heavy metal festival covers the story.
You're never too old to rock on. Two elderly men managed to slip away from their nursing home in Germany to attend the Wacken Open Air, the largest heavy metal festival in the world, over the weekend, authorities said.
According to Itzehoe police, the pair was eventually found Friday at 3 a.m. local time at the festival after their retirement home in Dithmarscher reported them missing. Police told the Deutsche Welle the men were found "disorientated and dazed."
The metalheads were apparently reluctant to leave the four-day festival in Wacken. They had to be escorted home with a taxi and a patrol car as a "precaution," police said.
Of course, safety is an issue. I don't mean to make light of what might have happened. But dudes, rock on! (P.S. One of my colleagues who is a big music fan offered to represent them for free if they need lawyers).
Monday, May 27, 2019
Dr. Jay Wolfson, who served as the guardian ad litem in the Schiavo case, recently sent me a link to a BBC story about Vincent Lambert. Vincent Lambert: Life support must resume after court reverses ruling explains that after the Paris Appeals Court ruling, doctors had to resume life support for Mr. Lambert, in a vegetative state since an accident in 2008. His spouse supports terminating life support, while his parents oppose it. When reading the article, I couldn't help but notice the similarities to some occurrences in Schiavo.
The dispute has spread beyond the family of Mr. Lambert. "The UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had called on France to intervene and delay the move to withdraw the life support while they investigated his case further. France's ministry of health said it was not bound by the committee."
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Apparently researchers and gamers are collaborating -- on a "game" that could be used to "identify individuals who might have early and mild symptoms of dementia that medical test aren't able to detect." The game, developed in Germany, and called Sea Hero Quest, reportedly uses virtual reality technology to have a "player" manipulate a virtual boat on a game board. Players are "given a map and shown checkpoints, then the map is taken away and players must navigate to these checkpoints in the game world without the map."
Some of the data reported strike me as, hmmm, surprising. I suspect this game might have greater validity if the players have established, previous skills in using the gaming tools, as well as interest or patience with the technology. There might also be some serious ethical questions for how the "game" is employed as a diagnostic tool. For more details, read "A Video Game Developed to Detect Alzheimer's Disease Seems to Be Working."
Thursday, April 4, 2019
The GAO published a new report examining the experiences of other countries with phased retirement of workers. Older Workers: Other Countries' Experiences with Phased Retirement reports on "17 countries with aging populations and national pension systems similar to the Social Security program in the United States. These countries also have arrangements that allow workers to reduce their working hours as they transition into retirement, referred to as 'phased retirement.'"
GAO's four case study countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK)—were described as employing various strategies at the national level to encourage phased retirement, and specific programs differed with respect to design specifics and sources of supplemental income for participants. Canada and the U.K. were described as having national policies that make it easier for workers to reduce their hours and receive a portion of their pension benefits from employer-sponsored pension plans while continuing to accrue pension benefits in the same plan. Experts described two national programs available to employers and workers in Germany, with one program using tax preferences. Experts also said Sweden implemented a policy in 2010 that allows partial retirement and access to partial pension benefits to encourage workers to stay in the labor force longer.
Even with unique considerations in the United States, other countries' experiences with phased retirement could inform U.S. efforts. Some employer-specific conditions, such as employers offering employee-directed retirement plans and not being covered by collective bargaining are more common in the United States, but the case study countries included examples of designs for phased retirement programs in such settings. Certain programs allow access to employer-sponsored or national pension benefits while working part-time. For example, experts said the U.K. allows workers to draw a portion of their account based pension tax-free, and one U.K. employer GAO spoke to also allows concurrent contributions to those plans. In addition, experts said that certain program design elements help determine the success of some programs. Such elements could inform the United States experience. For instance, U.S. employers told us that while offering phased retirement to specific groups of workers may be challenging because of employment discrimination laws, a union representative in Germany noted that they reached an agreement where employers may set restrictions or caps on participation, such as 3 percent of the workforce, to manage the number of workers in the program. Employers in the U.S. could explore whether using a similar approach, taking into consideration any legal concerns or other practical challenges, could help them to control the number of workers participating in phased retirement programs.
Monday, March 4, 2019
The Law Library Journal has published a comprehensive bibliography on Physician-Aided Dying. Physician-Assisted Death: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, prepared by Alyssa Thurston, who is head of Reference Services at Pepperdine University School of Law Library in Malibu, Calif., provides a comprehensive update on this important topic.
Here is the abstract of the paper. "Physician-assisted death (PAD), which encompasses physician-assisted suicide and physician-administered euthanasia, has long been controversial. However, recent years have seen a trend toward legalizing some form of PAD in the United States and abroad. The author provides an annotated bibliography of sources concerning PAD and the many issues raised by its legalization."
The introduction offers some helpful information for the reader:
¶3 This bibliography compiles selected secondary and primary materials on
PAD. Secondary sources include books, book chapters, law review and law journal
articles, bibliographies, websites, and current awareness materials, and are mostly
limited to publication dates of 2007–2018.10 Many of these materials discuss multiple
issues within the broader topic of PAD, and I have categorized them by subject
based on what I perceive to be their primary themes.
¶4 Most of the included materials focus on the United States, but a number of
sources also discuss other countries, and one section is devoted to international
experiences with PAD. In addition, PAD is often debated alongside other end-oflife
topics, such as withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment,11 palliative care,12
hospice care,13 or the use of advance directives,14 and some of the scholarship listed
in this bibliography concurrently address one or more of these subjects in depth.
Thanks to my colleague, Professor Brooke Bowman, for alerting me to this helpful resource!
Sunday, February 3, 2019
The BBC ran a story recently about elders in Japan committing crimes, to spend time in jail. The elders may be lonely, or may have outlived their savings and can't afford to live independently anymore. Why some Japanese pensioners want to go to jail
[One individual noted in the story] represents a striking trend in Japanese crime. In a remarkably law-abiding society, a rapidly growing proportion of crimes is carried about by over-65s. In 1997 this age group accounted for about one in 20 convictions but 20 years later the figure had grown to more than one in five - a rate that far outstrips the growth of the over-65s as a proportion of the population (though they now make up more than a quarter of the total).
Further, recidivism is an issue with this age group: "2,500 over-65s convicted in 2016, more than a third had more than five previous convictions." The article notes that shoplifting is the most common crime. One researcher "[i]n a paper published in 2016 he calculates that the costs of rent, food and healthcare alone will leave recipients in debt if they have no other income - and that's before they've paid for heating or clothes. In the past it was traditional for children to look after their parents, but in the provinces a lack of economic opportunities has led many younger people to move away, leaving their parents to fend for themselves." The article explains low pensions are part of the issue as well as increasing isolation and loneliness.
Thanks to two of our alums for alerting me to this article.
Monday, January 28, 2019
Elder drivers is a topic I cover in my class every spring, and it's one guaranteed to generate a robust discussion. So a recent story about Prince Phillip allows me to bring in current events to this topic. The Washington Post ran this article, Britain’s Prince Philip, 97, crashed his car. Rescuers say it’s ‘amazing people weren’t seriously injured.’.
Of course, age alone is not an indicator of good or bad driving, but stories like this one allow the students to think about the various issues and how we may as a society address them. Geographic location and financial stability also play into the options available for those who shouldn't (or can't) drive. In our area, public transportation isn't as plentiful as other urban areas. The students, of course, would open up a ride-sharing app on their smart phones and order a car. Elders may not be able to afford to do so, or even know it exists. There are a number of issues that can then arise for those who lose the ability to get places. And of course, we all have an interest in getting unsafe drivers off the road.
I am guessing that Prince Phillip likely has many more transportation options that an average 97 year old in the U.S. Families frequently need to have "the chat" with their elder relative about stopping driving. The Washington Post article addressed that. "So, who might ask Philip to hand over his car keys? 'It will be the Queen, she’ll be the only one who can really tell him...'”
Friday, January 4, 2019
Recent news reports are focusing on the history of Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the purported age of 122 years and 164 days, a record that is still unsurpassed.
Some are convinced that she was not that old, and the possible motivation for the fraud is interesting. Did a daughter assume the identity of her mother, rather earlier in the history, to avoid paying inheritance taxes? One researcher notes the lack of any evidence of dementia as a clue.
For more, see "Researchers Claim World Record for Longest Life a Case of ID Fraud" from CBS News.
Friday, November 23, 2018
With Thanksgiving 2018 behind us and family on our minds, it seemed timely that the New York Times ran an article about the newest entry into robot caregivers. Meet Zora, the Robot Caregiver explains that this small robot, perhaps "more cute toy than futuristic marvel ... is at the center of an experiment in France to change care for elderly patients." The nursing home using Zora found that residents, with dementia or needing 24 hour care,forrmed emotional attachments to it. A nurse, out of sight of residents, controls the robot via a laptop, giving it commands to speak and do activities such as exercises and games.
The article focuses as well on the shortcomings of any robotic caregivers-that is, they aren't human. Regardless, we all know about the looming caregiver shortage. Will robot caregivers fill that shortage?
The experience at Jouarre provides a window into a future when we will rely more on robots to help care for loved ones as they age.
Zora Bots, the Belgium-based provider of the robot at Jouarre, says it has sold over 1,000 of the robots to health care facilities around the world, including in the United States, Asia and Middle East. It is part of a growing emphasis on robotics focused on care. A robot dog made by Sony has been marketed as a companion for older adults.
France, the article explains faces ongoing and serious issues regarding health care
[H]ospitals have been facing a national crisis, with health care professionals striking and protesting budget cuts and staff shortages. A rise of suicides of nurses and doctors has made national headlines, and France’s health minister acknowledged that the hospital system was “running out of steam.”
The challenge will be creating machines capable of doing more complex jobs. Lifting a patient’s mood with a song is different from providing health care. The French hospital, which bought the robot with the help of a charitable grant, brings out Zora just a few times a month.
In Australia, a hospital using a Zora robot studied the effects on patients and staff. The researchers found that it improved the mood of some patients, and got them more involved in activities, but required significant technical support.
The experience of the French hospital staff has been similar.
However, these robot caregivers are not health care providers-at least not yet. What the research has shown is that the residents can feel emotional bonds with the robots and they can help residents feel happier, or even, as the article notes, confide things in the robots that they won't tell human caregivers.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Law students from Penn State's Dickinson Law attended sessions hosted by LeadingAge and National Continuing Care Residents Association (NaCCRA) on October 28 in Philadelphia. It was my pleasure to share this experience with students. I see these opportunities as a great way to think about the wider world of business and law opportunities, and to consider how law and aging can intersect.
In the morning, we heard from A.V. Powell about best practices for actuarial evaluations to promote greater understanding of financial issues for continuing care and life plan communities across the country. At lunch we met Parker Life's CEO Roberto Muñiz, shown here on the right with Dickinson Law student Mark Lingousky, and discussed Roberto's ongoing projects such as working to established coordinated care options not just in Parker's center of operations in New Jersey, but also in Roberto's family home in Puerto Rico.
After lunch we attended a LeadingAge educational program on "Legal Perspectives on Provider Operational Issues," presented by four attorneys from around the country. Afterwards the students commented that they were surprised by how many of the topics had come up in one of Dickinson Law's unique 1L courses, on Problem Solving and Lawyering Skills. It is great to see such correspondence between real life and law school life. Of particular interest was hearing how residential communities are coping with issues connected to legalization of marijuana, including medical marijuana and so-called recreational marijuana, both from the context of resident use and potential use by employees.
On the drive home from Philadelphia, I had the chance to debrief with the students about what most interested them at the conferences. They quickly said they appreciated the opportunity to talk with engaged seniors about what matters concerned them. Indeed, after the attorneys leading the afternoon program took a quick poll at the outset to ask how many of the members of the audience were attorneys (outside or inside counsel), operational staff, or board members, one student leaned into me and said, "They forgot to ask how many people in the audience were residents or consumers of their services!"
Music to our ears, right Jack Cumming?
October 29, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Programs/CLEs, Property Management | Permalink | Comments (1)
Friday, October 26, 2018
My first close look at filial support law in Germany arose in 2015, when I met a German-born, naturalized U.S. citizen living in Pennsylvania who had received a series of demand letters from Germany authorities asking her to submit detailed financial information for the authorities to analyze in order to determine how much she would be compelled to pay towards care for her biological father in German. Her father had become seriously ill and did not have inadequate financial resources of his own. As I've come to learn, the name for Germany's applicable legal theory is elternunterhalt, which translates into English as "parental maintenance."
Since 2015, I've heard from other adult children living in the U.S., but also in Canada and England, about additional cross-border claims originating in Germany. They write in hopes of getting objective information and to share their own stories, which I appreciate. In some instances, such as the first case I saw in Pennsylvania, a statutory defense becomes relevant because of past "serious misconduct" on the part of the indigent parent towards the child. The misconduct has to be more than mere alienation or gaps in communication. Sometimes misconduct such as abuse or neglect is the very reason the child left Germany, searching for a safer place.
Most of the adult children who reach out to me report they had never heard of elternunterhalt. Their years of estrangement are often not just from the parent but from the country of their birth. Even those who still have a relationship with the parent in Germany often learn of the potential support obligation only after their parent is admitted to a nursing home or other form of care. They face unexpected demands for foreign payments, while they are often still looking to fund college for children or their own retirement needs.
National German authorities began to mandate enforcement of elternunterhalt in 2010 in response to increasing public welfare costs for their "boomer" generation of aging citizens. Enforcement seems to have been phased in slowly among the 16 states in the country. I've read news stories from Germany about confusion and anger in entirely domestic cases.
A claim typically begins with letters from a social welfare agency in the area where the needy parent is living. The first letters usually do not state the amount of any requested maintenance payment, but enclose forms that seek detailed, documented information about the "obligated child's" income and certain personal expenses or obligations (such as care for minor children). The authorities also seeks information about any marital property and for income for any spouse of "life partner."
Whether or not the information is supplied, at some point in a wholly domestic German case the social welfare office may initiate a request for a specific amount of back pay as well as current "maintenance." Such a request cannot be enforced unless the child either agrees to pay or a court of law decrees that payment must be made. The latter requires a formal suit to be initiated by the agency and litigated in the family divisions of the German courts. The amount of any compelled payment is determined by a host of factors, including the amount of the parent's pension, savings, and any long-term care insurance, and the child's own financial circumstances.
Cross border cases have been pursued within the EU with some reported results. As for parental maintenance claims presented to U.S. children, enforceability is less clear. According to some of the letters sent by German authorities, Germany takes the position that a German court ruling in a cross border elternunterhalt claim can be enforced in the United States under "international law." The letters do not explain what legal authorities are the basis for such enforcement.
The Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance was approved by the European Union, thereby affecting Germany, in 2014. The treaty is mostly directed to the mechanics of international child support claims and is built on past international agreements on child support; however the treaty also provides that the Convention shall apply to any contracting state that has declared that it will extend the application "in whole or in part" to "any maintenance obligation arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity, including in particular obligations in respect of vulnerable persons." See Article 2(3).
October 26, 2018 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Property Management, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)