The Musical Icon Prince May Have Died Without a Will

According to documents obtained by People Magazine, Prince did not have a Last Will and Testament. Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson filed an Emergency Petition in a Minnesota Court seeking the appointment of a Special Administrator.

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Employees of Medford Multicare Found Guilty on Charges in Connection with Rehab Patient’s Death

Recently, five former health care workers at a nursing home facility were convicted of several crimes in connection with the death of a 72 year old rehabilitation patient.  A respiratory therapist and three nurses were sentenced to various jail terms and probation for the attempted cover–up of the circumstances surrounding the patient’s death.  In addition, another respiratory therapist entrusted with the patient’s care was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

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New Federal Nursing Home Rating System Causes Lower Scores

Choosing a nursing home for yourself or your loved one can be challenging and emotionally taxing.  With so many stories about nursing home abuse and neglect, it can take a lot of research to find a location you feel comfortable with.  However, even the pricey nursing homes may not have the nicest accommodations or provide the best health care.  A few weeks ago, the federal government put a new nursing home rating system into effect.  The goal is to provide a more accurate rating system for nursing homes that reflects the quality of accommodation and care the residents receive.   Approximately 80% of the nursing homes originally received 4 or 5 star ratings based on the old criteria.  However, the ratings were mostly inaccurate due to the lack of specificity and different criteria of the previous rating system.

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Nursing Homes Using Guardianship Rights to Collect Debts

The New York Times recently exposed several startling scenarios in which nursing homes have attempted to gain guardianship rights over residents in an effort to collect payment.  According to research done by Hunter College, the practice of nursing homes filing for guardianship of residents is becoming increasingly common.  In the last ten years, out of 700 guardianship cases brought to court in Manhattan alone, 12% were filed by nursing homes.

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Elderly Misuse of Antipsychotics: A Disturbing National Trend

A recent National Public Radio (NPR) investigation revealed that nearly 20 percent of senior nursing home residents receive some form of antipsychotic medications.

Similar reports, drawing from the NPR investigation, found significantly higher rates of antipsychotic drug usage concentrated in the Western New York area.  In the Rochester region, data revealed that antipsychotic drug usage rates reached up to 30 percent.*

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Nursing Homes Attempt to Lure in More Medicare Patients to Increase Profit

A recent exposé by the New York Times revealed that as nursing homes revamp their facilities to include luxury living quarters, the disparity between the lavish amenities of short term accommodations, and the quality of care can be drastic.  Although nursing homes are attempting to lure in patients whose short stays will be funded by Medicare dollars, in lieu of Medicaid, many patients are being discharged from the facilities before they have been rehabilitated.  Or worse yet- they leave with more medical issues than they had upon admittance.

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Proposed Rules to Retirement Savings Investments Require More Transparency from Brokers

After four years of planning, federal regulators of the U.S. Labor Department proposed rules that would strengthen the protection of those investing their retirement money.  The new rules would require that brokers owe a stronger fiduciary duty to their clients.  Currently, the rules are vague and use ambiguous language, allowing brokers to skirt around the guidelines and in many instances, put their own investment interests first.

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Proposed Changes to VA Pension Eligibility Rules

The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed new rules affecting VA pension eligibility that would place restrictions on asset transfers with a penalty period that could last up to a decade; limit home lot sizes to two acres; and cap home health care expenses.  The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and veterans advocates believe the enactment of this proposed rule could cause severe harm to veterans in need of long term care, and their families.  The new rules are more restrictive than Medicaid by disallowing the use of trusts and annuities as long term care planning tools.

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Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program

New York City rental prices seem to continue to rise without any foreseeable decline.  As a result, reasonably priced housing has become a coveted treasure city-wide.

However, through the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) renters who are 62 or older with yearly incomes below $50,000 may be eligible for exemption from all or some increases in rents, carrying charges, capital assessment or voluntary capital contributions.

Recent changes to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) has expanded eligibility by increasing the maximum annual income to $50,000 from $29,000.

Lawmakers speculate that in the next ten years, New York City will see a 30% increase in the senior adult population. They further point out that New York City is home to the highest number of foreign-born senior citizens in the nation. As a result, more low-income seniors are seeking an affordable place to retire. Continue reading “Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program”

Expert Health Committee Recommends Major Changes to U.S. Health System

End of life care refers to the treatment of patients in the final hours or days of their lives, as well as the health care of all those with a terminal illness or a terminal condition that has become advanced, progressive and incurable.

A national panel recently appointed by the Institute of Medicine, the research branch of the National Academy of Sciences, released a report on September 17, 2014. The report stated that the United States’ system for handling end-of-life care is largely inept, thus necessitating a major makeover.

The report was authored by a 21-member nonpartisan committee comprised of doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and experts on aging. It called for major overhauls in the industry, and noted that many of its recommendations could be accomplished without the necessity of the often slow-moving legislative process.

The  507- page report called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs,” as well as the elimination of financial incentives that are alleged to encourage expensive hospital procedures over low-tech services like home health care and pain management, particularly for sick and elderly patients. Continue reading “Expert Health Committee Recommends Major Changes to U.S. Health System”