The Times Union reported that Michael Levine, the owner of the Loudonville Home for Adults, is denying that he knew that Richard Ragone was a convicted rapist before he hired him as a maintenance man.  Ragone has been arrested for sexually abusing a 91-year-old woman at the home.

Richard Ragone was a Level 3 sex offender who spent more than 16 years in prison for rape and sodomy.  He was hired by the home in 2008 — the same year he came off parole–despite the fact that Levine admits that the home conducts criminal background checks.

In 1984, Ragone was convicted of first-degree rape, sodomy and attempted sexual abuse and sentenced to 12½ to 25 years in prison for victimizing a 43-year-old woman in Saratoga County.

 

KOKH Fox 25 in Oklahoma reported a recent change in the law allowing convicted criminals of offenses such as assault, battery and first degree robbery to work in nursing homes as long as it was seven years before employment.  However, convictions for rape, child abuse, murder or kidnapping would still be considered unemployable offenses.  Industry apologists wrote the law including Rebecca Moore, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers.  Rep. Jeannie McDaniel authored HB2582 with the intention of creating a fingerprinting system that could perform background checks on prospective nursing home employees using numerous national databases.

 

With the fingerprinting program, employers can look up applicants’ history on national sex offender registries, child care restrictive registries as well as nurse aid registries. If an applicant commits any crime inside or outside of Oklahoma especially involving long-term care facilities, the check will pick up on it. If an applicant gets hired regardless of whether they have an employable offense, will be ultimately up to the employer at the nursing home.

 

In an article from the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, it was reported that Shelbyville nurse Brooke Sissom was accused of stealing pain medications from patients at the Manchester Health Care Center where she worked.  Brooke Sissom allegedly used the names and prescriptions of patients to order some potent pain medications which she proceeded to take herself, although it is possible that she may have sold some.

On October 12, she was arrested and charged with “nine counts of obtaining controlled substance by fraud,” while she was ordering new prescriptions. The nursing home staff became suspicious of her activities and notified the police, even going so far as to locate and save documents recording the sales which Sissom attempted to destroy.

She is responsible for endangering the lives of patients who were unable to receive their medications. Records from the Tennessee Board of Nursing have recently been brought to light, testifying that Sissom’s nursing license was place in probation back in 2009 due to “‘unauthorized removal of controlled substances without authorization’ and ‘incorrect entries in patient records.’” However, she has just been set free on a $10,000 bond.

Jack Meyers was kind enough to write a guest article for us today.

If you have a parent or parents who need housing but do not have any income other than social security, you know how hard it is to find a place for them to live that they can afford. Many places have income limits they need to achieve before they can live there, and other ones, especially those that offer full time care, are so expensive that it is just ridiculous. However, there are two housing options that I know of for seniors with social security as their only means of income.

1. Income Based Senior Citizen Communities – The first option is income based. That means that the rent your parents pay every month is based on how much they receive from social security. It is usually very fair and leaves them enough money for food and other expenses. However, these communities usually do not offer the amenities or care that more expensive options do. Ideal for independent seniors, these communities also allow only those in a certain age bracket to live there, making it both safer and quieter than a normal apartment complex.

2. Individuals –Another option for seniors that cannot afford much is living in someone’s home. Often individuals are looking for someone to rent out a room or garage apartment for a very affordable price. An elderly, quite resident is ideal in that case. The only danger here is making sure that your parent is capable of taking care of themselves and that the person they will be sharing a house with is someone they get along with. Sometimes the rent can be further offset if your parent is willing to help with an elderly relative or child for a few hours during the day or night.
There are always ways of finding an affordable place to live. You just have to do a little research and maybe think outside the box. If your parent needs a place to live but does not have income aside from social security, then try one of these two ideas and see what you can find.
Author Bio:

Jack Meyer is a regular contributor for http://www.nannybackgroundcheck.com/. As a detective he wants to spread the knowledge of terrible things that can happen when people don’t fully verify the credentials of a caregiver or any employee. He also writes for various law enforcement blogs and sites.

The Washington Post: Fact Check: The $700B Medicare Cut
Romney accused Obama of taking $716 billion from Medicare. This $700 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. In fact, the Obama health-care law also raised Medicare payroll taxes by $318 billion over the new 10-year time frame, further strengthening the program’s financial condition (Kessler, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Romney’s Charge On Obama’s $716-Billion Medicare Cut
Mitt Romney repeated a misleading claim that President Obama cut $716 billion out of the Medicare program for current beneficiaries. The president’s healthcare law does reduce future spending on Medicare, but those savings are obtained by reducing federal payments to insurance companies, hospitals and other providers, and do not affect benefits for people in the Medicare program (Levey, 10/3).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Romney Repeats Erroneous Claims On Healthcare
Mitt Romney repeated a number of erroneous claims during Wednesday’s debate about President Obama’s healthcare law, including that it relies on a board that will decide “what kind of treatment” patients can get. This is a myth advanced repeatedly by critics of the Affordable Care Act and debunked consistently by independent fact-checkers (Levey, 10/3).

 

Iowa’s CBS 2 KGAN news reported on yet another incident of a nursing home employee stealing drugs from residents.  Darla Frotmann, an employee of Sunnycrest Manor in Dubuque county has been arrested and accused of stealing prescription pain medications.

In an interview with police Frotmann admitted stealing more than 250 pills during the time she worked at the facility. Even more incredible is the fact that Frotmann was previously charged with a misdemeanor count of prohibited acts with prescription drugs earlier this year, yet she was not only permitted to work at the facility, but trusted to work in an environment where she was constantly around prescription medications.

The case exemplifies the lack of concern nursing homes show when hiring staff to work with and around vulnerable adults. Incidents like this really show the dire need for nursing homes to conduct more stringent background checks and to use better judgement and higher standards when hiring people to be trusted to care for a family’s loved one.

New Jersey’s Fair Lawn Patch News reported that an employee of Maple Glen Center nursing home in Fair Lawn has been charged with forgery, theft, and impersonation after she allegedly conned more than $100,000 from a resident.  Kye Giacalone worked as the admissions director at the facility when she “befriended” the resident and gained power of attorney. She then used it to open credit cards in the victim’s name which she paid for with money from the man’s bank account.  Fair Lawn followed it up with an article that reported charges include four counts of forgery, four counts of impersonating another and one count of second degree theft.

Even after the resident moved to another nursing home Giacalone continued to steal money from his account to purchase personal items for herself. Incredibly, the administrator of Maple Glen Center claimed that the facility had not suspected any wrong doing until the day police came to the facility to arrest Giacalone.

The administrator defended the facility’s judgment saying, “All Maple Glen Center employees are subject to a background check.”   Incidents such as this one show that the background check policies that many nursing homes have in place are not serving their intended purpose-to prevent harm and protect the residents.

Employing a higher standard of people should be made a top priority especially when these are the people entrusted to care for a family’s vulnerable loved one.

In the article Criminals in Nursing Homes, it was stated that federal data had found up to 90 percent of all nursing homes employ people who have been convicted of at least one crime.   A nursing home should be a safe environment for its residents and ensure that they are in a facility that will tend to their needs and ensure they live a comfortable life. Sadly, for millions of nursing home residents, nursing home abuse and neglect at the hands of criminal employees is a reality.

There are several indications that nursing home abuse or neglect has taken place. Some of these signs are physical in nature such as unexplained bruises, broken bones, or skin tears and cuts. Others will be emotional such as aggravation, depression, and unusual behaviors.  These are typically the result of inadequate staff to care for its residents or violent predators who have been hired by a nursing home inflicting intentional harm on your loved one.

We need a nationwide standard requiring nursing homes to conduct a criminal background check and not to hire those with records for any violent behavior or drug abuse.

The Las Vegas Sun reported the closing of Las Vegas Home Sweet Home, an assisted-living center after charges that its elderly residents were physical abused and their money stolen from them.  Residents were removed and placed in other facilities after the state Bureau of Health Care and Compliance suspended the license of the nursing home.

"The investigation uncovered cases in which Social Security checks and other funds allegedly were found being deposited into the personal accounts of caregivers. The probe found caregivers took more money than necessary for grocery store purchases and didn’t return it to the residents, state officials said."

The state reported there was abuse of an elderly woman who had a shouting match with a manager. Officials said she was dragged down the hallway by her ankles while kicking and screaming.

The home has been fined repeatedly by the state bureau. It said the suspension was issued by the state on grounds that residents weren’t safe as a result of chronic and repeated non-compliance with regulations.

 

Zaleppa v. Seiwell (2010 PA Super 208 November 17, 2010) is a case out of Pennsylvania that recently held:

"After careful consideration, we conclude that there is no legal basis under either federal or Pennsylvania law to assert the interests of the United States government as to the reimbursement of Medicare liens."

 

Background:

Car wreck resulting in $15,000 jury verdict against Seiwell’s insurance company to compensate Phyllis Zaleppa. Seiwell alleges that the trial court erred in denying her post-trial motion, which requested that the court enter an order directing her to pay the verdict either (1) by naming Medicare, along with Zaleppa and her attorneys, as payees on the draft satisfying the verdict or (2) by paying the verdict into court pending notification from Medicare that all outstanding Medicare liens have been satisfied.

Both of Seiwell’s issues address the same legal question, whether the MSPA either requires or allows a private entity to assert the rights of the United States government regarding a potential claim for reimbursement of a Medicare lien.  Seiwell argues that under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1395y(b)(2)(B)(ii) of the MSPA, she and her liability insurer are considered the “primary plan” responsible for reimbursing Medicare for conditional payments made to Zaleppa.

As such, in the event that a private insurer is legally required to pay for the treatment for which
Medicare has already paid, the MSPA provides that Medicare must be reimbursed for the expense. 42 U.S.C.A. § 1395y(b)(2)(B)(i) (stating that “[a]ny such payment […] shall be conditioned on reimbursement to the appropriate Trust Fund”). An entity which receives payment from a primary
plan must reimburse Medicare within 60 days. See 42 C.F.R. § 411.24(h).

The MSPA specifically delineates the obligations of both the recipient and primary insurance plan as follows.
(ii) Primary plans
A primary plan, and an entity that receives payment from a primary plan, shall reimburse the appropriate Trust Fund for any payment made by the Secretary under this subchapter with respect to an item or service if it is demonstrated that such primary plan has or had a responsibility to make payment with respect to such item or service. A primary plan’s responsibility for such payment may be demonstrated by a judgment, a payment conditioned upon the recipient’s compromise, waiver, or release (whether or not there is a determination or admission of liability) of payment for items or services included in a claim against the primary plan or the primary plan’s insured, or by other means.

As the express language indicates, the MSPA imposes a duty upon a “primary plan” and “an entity that receives payment from a primary plan” to reimburse Medicare if the primary plan is responsible to pay for the medical treatment provided. Id. Thus, if an outstanding Medicare lien existed, we recognize that the MSPA requires that either Zaleppa, as the “entity that receive[d] payment from [the] primary plan[,]” or Seiwell and her insurer, as the primary plan, must reimburse Medicare. Id. Importantly for our review, the regulations under the MSPA indicate that only a recovery demand letter, which is issued by Medicare and directed specifically to the primary plan, triggers the primary plan’s duty to reimburse the Medicare trust fund. 42 C.F.R. § 411.22(c) (specifying that a primary payer must make payment to either “an entity designed to receive repayments,” such as a plaintiff receiving a judgment in her favor, or “[a]s directed in a recovery demand letter” from Medicare).

"Seiwell, however, contends that the existence of this statutory obligation requires and enables her and her insurer, as a primary plan, to seek post-trial relief which affirmatively asserts the United States government’s interest in reimbursement. We disagree."  

Nothing in § 1395y(b)(2)(B)(ii), or any other provision of the MSPA, expressly authorizes a primary plan to assert Medicare’s right to reimbursement as a preemptive means of guarding against its own risk of liability. The MSPA sets forth only one method for the United States government to recover the funds which it dispersed through conditional Medicare payments. Under the MSPA, only the Unites States government is authorized to pursue its own right to reimbursement. 42 U.S.C.A § 1395y(b)(2)(B)(iii).

As such, we discern from the regulations that the government may only seek recovery
directly from a primary plan after it has issued a recovery demand letter to that primary plan. See 42 C.F.R § 411.22(c).