Federal Task Force to Focus on Elder Abuse

by Walt Zaremba

Justice leagueThe U.S. Department of Justice has recently announced the creation of several Elder Justice Task Forces.

The Department of Justice will appoint a number of Elder Justice Task Forces that will attempt to coordinate their joint investigations to allow for quicker enforcement actions and prosecutions of elder fraud and abuse. These Task Forces will tied together information and investigations from all allied services be it federal, state, or local resources.  It will include the reports from law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state adult protective services agencies, long-term care ombudsman programs, U.S. attorneys' offices, state Medicaid fraud control units, and state and local prosecutors' offices.

The Task Forces will concentrate their efforts on investigating nursing homes that provide inadequate care to their residents. They also—in addition to looking into federal criminal charges for health care fraud—have the authority to enforce False Claims Act violations, HIPAA violations and state criminal laws. Those corporations that are found to have violated the law will see significant monetary penalties, especially for repeat offenders. They could also face other penalties, such as possible debarment from federal programs like Medicare. Individuals who are caught committing crimes will also face imprisonment and fines.

The task force announcement is part of the Department of Justice's promise in its Elder Justice Initiative that all providers of services to the elderly will face increased scrutiny. Particularly, this should be expected first in the jurisdictions designated for the initial 10 Task Forces: the Northern Districts of California, Georgia and Iowa; Districts of Kansas and Maryland; Western Districts of Kentucky and Washington; Southern District of Ohio; Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and the Middle District of Tennessee.

Reference: The National Review April 28, 2016) "DOJ Task Forces Target Elder Fraud in Health Care"

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law, Elder Abuse, Medicaid, Elder Exploitation, Virginia

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