Today, the Department of Justice announced the launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces.Â These teams will bring together federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and agencies that provide services to the elderly, to coordinate and enhance efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.
â€œMillions of seniors count on nursing homes to provide them with quality care and to treat them with dignity and respect when they are most vulnerable,â€ said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. Â â€œYet, all too often we have found nursing home owners or operators who put their own economic gain before the needs of their residents. These task forces will help ensure that we are working closely with all relevant parties to protect the elderly.â€
The Elder Justice Task Forces will include representatives from the U.S. Attorneysâ€™ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutorsâ€™ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and law enforcement.
â€œThe Department of Justice has a long history of holding nursing homes and long-term care providers accountable when they fail to provide their Medicare and Medicaid residents with even the most basic nursing services to which they were entitled,â€ said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Departmentâ€™s Civil Division. Â â€œBy bringing everyone to the table, we will be able to more effectively and quickly pursue nursing homes that are jeopardizing the health and well-being of their residents.â€
The 10 Elder Justice Task Forces will be launched in the following Districts: Northern District of California, Northern District of Georgia, District of Kansas, Western District of Kentucky, Northern District of Iowa, District of Maryland, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Washington.
â€œWe believe that by actively participating in the Elder Justice Task Forces announced today through joint investigations, sharing information and regular meetings; we will strengthen our efforts nationally to protect the most vulnerable of our population who reside in our nursing homes and other care facilities,â€ said Keesha Mitchell, President of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the Director of the Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
â€œThe HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) continues to pursue nursing home operators who provide potentially harmful care to residents who are often unable to protect themselves,â€ said Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske of HHS. Â â€œCreating these task forces sends a message to those in charge of caring for these beneficiaries that grossly substandard care will not be tolerated.â€
â€œThe Administration for Community Living was created to help ensure that older adults and people with disabilities are able to live the lives they want, with the people they choose, fully participating in their communities,â€ said Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs at the Administration for Community Living. Â â€œOur mission includes supporting their basic right to live with dignity, free from abuse.Â We appreciate the Department of Justiceâ€™s leadership on this important initiative and applaud its long-standing commitment to elder justice efforts.â€
â€œOur most vulnerable citizens deserve the highest quality care and attention,â€ said Executive Director Kathleen Quinn of the National Adult Protective Services Association. Â â€œThis initiative will help insure that long-term care facilities provide it. The Department of Justice is to be commended for this, and indeed all its efforts, to protect the millions of elder abuse victims in this country.â€
The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the departmentâ€™s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nationâ€™s seniors, spearheaded by the departmentâ€™s Elder Justice Initiative.Â The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Departmentâ€™s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues.Â It plays an integral role in the departmentâ€™s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.Â The Elder Justice Initiative will be providing litigation support and training to the Elder Justice Task Forces.Â Learn more about the Justice Departmentâ€™s Elder Justice Initiative at http://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/.