WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Justice announced the launch of 10 regional Elder Justice Task Forces. 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.
“Millions 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,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “Yet, 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.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces will include representatives from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, state and local prosecutors’ offices, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), state Adult Protective Services agencies, Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs and law enforcement.
“The 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,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “By 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.”
“The model developed in Western Washington relies on close collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement partners to protect elderly Washingtonians,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “I’m proud that this district and my law enforcement colleagues are leaders in these investigations that too often demonstrate how physical abuse and financial fraud go hand in hand.”
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.
“We 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,” said Keesha Mitchell, President of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the Director of the Ohio Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
“The 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,” said Chief Counsel to the Inspector General Gregory Demske of HHS. “Creating these task forces sends a message to those in charge of caring for these beneficiaries that grossly substandard care will not be tolerated.”
“The 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,” said Becky Kurtz, Director of the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs at the Administration for Community Living. “Our mission includes supporting their basic right to live with dignity, free from abuse. We appreciate the Department of Justice’s leadership on this important initiative and applaud its long-standing commitment to elder justice efforts.”
“Our most vulnerable citizens deserve the highest quality care and attention,” said Executive Director Kathleen Quinn of the National Adult Protective Services Association. “This 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.”
The Elder Justice Task Forces reflect the Department’s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation’s seniors, spearheaded by the Department’s Elder Justice Initiative. The Elder Justice Initiative coordinates and supports the Department’s law enforcement efforts and policy activities on elder justice issues. It plays an integral role in the Department’s investigative and enforcement efforts against nursing homes and other long-term care entities that deliver grossly substandard care to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The Elder Justice Initiative will be providing litigation support and training to the Elder Justice Task Forces. Learn more about the Justice Department’s Elder Justice Initiative at http://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/.