We have contended from the outset that the oversight agencies are ineffective, corrupt, complicit in or facilitators of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Full Stop. We have contended that many of the players within the elder-care guardianship and nursing home context are inextricably intertwined in wrongdoing, most with incestuous relationships with the oversight agencies. We have posited that there is no such thing as reporting if it is left to the good will of those entrusted with the care of the elderly. We maintain that too many people are making too much money for the nonsense legislation to have any substance.
Oversight agencies must be held accountable for their failures. Elder abuse MUST be accompanied by criminal penalties, whether to the guardians, the owners and operators, the magnates, the investors, the employees or the judges and politicians that allow the abuse to continue unchecked. Elder abuse MUST be deemed unacceptable. Full stop. Elders MUST have the power to decide their own destinies. Elders MUST be believed until their statements are proven unbelievable, if that is possible. An Elder’s human dignity MUST be respected before all else and not entrusted in the care of those who lack humanity and conscience.
New Jersey’s four-part legislation pays lipservice to intent but does none of that. It assumes unicorns and rainbows with respect to an industry which is no different that legalized human trafficking. When you build a beautiful house on a flawed foundation the house is doomed. So too is the fluff and nonsense legislation in New Jersey.
Assembly Panel Advances Murphy & Vainieri Huttle Bill Package to Combat Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation of Seniors and Vulnerable Adults
Measures to Modernize Conservatorships & Guardianships; Address Financial Abuse; and Strengthen Protections for Vulnerable Adults
(TRENTON) – The Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee on Monday approved a package of four bills sponsored by Assembly Democrats Carol Murphy and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to protect elderly or vulnerable adults from facing abuse, neglect or exploitation.
About one in ten Americans over age 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, including physical or emotional abuse or financial exploitation. Mental or physical impairments may make them more vulnerable to abuse, and many cases go unreported.
People with disabilities are also at a higher risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. About 30 percent of individuals with disabilities who need assistance with daily care, maintaining their health and safety, and accessing their communities have experienced some form of mistreatment.
“As we age, many of us will need a support system to help manage our health, finances, transportation and other aspects of life. This is especially true for seniors with dementia or other cognitive impairments” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “Sadly, too often the person trusted with an elderly person’s care ends up taking advantage of them. We must ensure the people caring for our most vulnerable have their best interests at heart, and everyone knows how recognize and report elder abuse.”
“Every person deserves to age with dignity,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We may face illness, disability or physical decline, but we should never face abuse. By strengthening protections for older adults and our most vulnerable, we are helping to keep our elderly loved ones safe and safeguard our own futures.”
Two bills in the package would modernize existing laws regarding conservatorship and guardianship in New Jersey. The first measure (A-4615) would require proposed conservatees or someone already under conservatorship to have counsel throughout the course of all court proceedings. The court would be required to appoint a counsel if they were ever unrepresented. The counsel would personally interview the conservatee or proposed conservatee within 72 hours before each scheduled hearing focused on conservatorship.
Counsel must also be provided to individuals under guardianships, or wards, as part of the second bill (A-4618).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today, legal counsel for the estate of the late Joann “Mama B” Bashinsky, the beloved Alabama philanthropist, announced several developments in the case of the permanent guardianship petition that haunted her for the last 18 months of her life before she passed away on January 3, 2021.
On Friday, Bashinsky’s counsel filed an appeal with the Alabama Supreme Court on one motion challenging an order issued by Judge A. Lee Tucker to pay a guardian ad litem fees for his own attorney on a prior matter. Following their appeal, Judge Tucker hastily ruled on numerous motions that have been delayed for weeks. Most notably, Tucker made a highly unusual ruling to deny the motion to dismiss the case in light of Mrs. Bashinsky’s death, further highlighting the numerous conflicts of interest among those involved in the case, including the judges and petitioners. The family is now forced to have to go to the Alabama Supreme Court once again because Judge Tucker won’t let the case die.
“These new decisions by Judge A. Lee Tucker are extremely disheartening, and confirm the corruption within the Jefferson County guardianship system at the hands of temporary conservator Greg Hawley and guardian ad litem Ken Guin, as directed first by Judge Alan King and now by Judge Tucker,” said attorney Susan Walker. “In my opinion, his latest rulings show that this court is failing to provide justice and fairness, as the Judge continues a case that has tormented the friends and family of Mama B, who suffered great distress for the last months of her life because of the permanent petition for guardianship and for conservatorship that threatened her finances and independence.”
The case has taken many unseemly twists and turns from the first day Mrs. Bashinsky’s fomer employees, John McKleroy and Patty Townsend, filed a petition to place her under a guardianship the very day she appropriately terminated them. On July 2, 2020, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an opinion declaring the emergency petition failed to establish an emergency and holding Mrs. Bashinsky was denied her constitutional due process rights. Since her death, the burden of exorbitant and unnecessary expenses on her family has endured as they navigate a case that would have typically died with the subject.
“Since the Alabama Supreme Court last saw this case, in my opinion it’s clear that petitioners McKleroy and Townsend along with former temporary conservator Hawley and guardian ad litem Guin are not acting in the best interests of Mrs. Bashinksy, but in their own financial interests, especially considering that they continue to pursue the assets of an elderly widow no longer alive to defend herself,” said attorney Walker. “There is no plausible explanation in my opinion as to why Judge Tucker would drag out the case of a deceased woman other than that it’s in the best interests of his friends in a system ripe with corruption and financial exploitation.”
New York is a cesspool of corruption; and sadly for those of us for whom this State has some sentimentality, we may be deluding ourselves into believing it can be fixed. absent tearing down the entire system of government and rebuilding it. It does not help that there is very little in New York that is transparent and, more to the point, even transparency is shrouded in secrecy. For instance, most states prohibit vendors who have significant state contracts from donating to politicians within the state. Sounds logical. But New York does not have such a prohibition. Couple that with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)), which paved the way for mega-donors to give money in secret, and you have a recipe for unending money-meets politics power brokering. And the players have learned to game the system like a BlackJack card-counter plays a hand. New York has no safeguards against running amok either. And it has.
Moreover, for those of us who misguidedly thought it could not get any worse, Covid-19 made corruption that much easier. While all eyes were on the extraordinary havoc Covid-19 was wreaking on the state, and while many of us chose Cuomo’s news briefings over those of the President at the time, Cuomo was constructing a return to his donors. He had made promises that needed to be kept if he ever wanted to be President. While New Yorkers were dying, Cuomo was devising the “quid pro quo”. Sadly, the real difference between Cuomo and Trump is political sides. Both played to their acolytes similarly. Interestingly, many of Cuomo’s top donors in New York and the greater Tri-State area were also Trump’s top donors. There is an heir of true opportunism in that.
Real Estate moguls who had donated large sums (either themselves or through their attorneys) were given an “essential business” pass to continue building, or operating when all other businesses were shut down. Hospitals and nursing/rehabilitation homes were given the well-touted immunity from any and all liability for deaths that occurred during the height of the Covid-19 spread. It does not matter what was the cause of death. The immunity is very broad. Any accountability for the negligence of nursing home owners, operators and staff, if not gross negligence got a Cuomo signed pass without accountability. We have dubbed those provisions the “Granny Killer Immunity” provisions, and it is noteworthy that these hugely significant provisions were snuck into a well-needed budget bill.
And, for those mega-donors who did not need global sweeps in return for their investment in Cuomo: including exceptions to rules, regulations, standards of behavior or full on immunity, Cuomo returned his donor largesse into important and influential political positions. Some of the megadonor law firms, those responsible for deciding the political slate of Democrats who run in many counties, most notably Kings County were the beneficiaries of client satisfaction. Moreover, to add icing to the cake, the person tasked with investigating the wrongdoing within Cuomo’s administration, notably the nursing homes and the Cuomo sexual harassments allegations is also the beneficiary of many of those donations. Her hands are largely tied, the question is how she will play the political chess game.
It should be clear that where Cuomo did not directly reap the benefits of the nursing home lobby, the major New York hospital chains and the related unions, Cuomo had the benefit of donations from their lawyers and accountants, who stepped in and donated big. Some of the highest donations to Cuomo’s campaign came from law firms representing nursing homes, real estate magnates, construction contractors, their lending banks and finally union members. And, to add insult to injury, some of the top donating law firms also requested and received some of the most extensive PPP loans.
One might consider that the PPP loans actually went to donations to Cuomo’s campaigns if it all comes out in the wash.
We are not providing you with information you could not find on your own. There are countless articles that have questioned the Cuomo donations over the years. Few have connected the dots. We are directing you to the most intriguing of the articles, but there are many more. The following we have only excerpted . We encourage you to read the entire article. It tells an important historical story of who has been scratching who’s back, the graft, the political PAC’s that help to make it possible and the incestuous web of political ties and money. And… this was before Covid-19.
Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found 347 state vendors that gave $6.2 million in political donations to Cuomo over a six-year period (2014-2019). Meanwhile, these companies reaped $7 billion in state payments.
These donations represented the equivalent of more than half of the current cash on hand – $11.9 million – in the governor’s campaign committee as of 12/31/2019, according to disclosures.
We created an interactive map displaying by ZIP Code all of the governor’s campaign contributions since 2014. Just click a pin (ZIP Code) and scroll down to see the results that render in the chart beneath the map.
Hospitals – Covid-Positive Patients Transferred To Nursing Homes
The Greater New York Hospital Association (Association) funneled $1 million to Cuomo’s re-election through the state Democratic party in 2018. That same year, the Association and the healthcare union, 1199SEIU, backed Cuomo’s healthcare “reforms” and spent $5.9 million lobbying in Albany.
By February 2020, Cuomo appointed the Association’s past chair and board member Michael Dowling along with 1199SEIU President Dennis Rivera as co-chairmen of the “Medicaid Redesign Team.” (State Medicaid was $4 billion in the red because of Cuomo’s accounting gimmicks.)
Just six weeks before the governor’s appointment, Michael Dowling gave Cuomo a $5,000 campaign donation (12/14/19). (Dowling is also the CEO of Northwell Health – which received $10 million in state payments in 2019.)
Twenty-eight days before the governor made 1199SEIU president Dennis Rivera co-chairman of his Medicaid Team, the union gave $15,000 to Cuomo’s re-election fund (1/6/2020). Since 2014, 1199SEIU backed Cuomo with political endorsements and $95,250 in campaign cash.
Real Estate, Development, and Construction Companies
Between years 2011 and 2020, real estate tycoon Scott Rechler, owner of RXR Realty, LLC, his wife, children, and affiliated LLC businesses gave $540,000 to Cuomo’s campaign fund. Family donations amounted to $385,000 and multiple LLCs funded another $155,000.
Scott’s brother, Todd, Chief Construction and Development Officer at RXR Realty, also contributed an additional $90,000 to Cuomo during the period.
We found four real estate leases owned by RXR Realty affiliated LLCs and signed by two state agencies: Office of Inspector General and Commission on Judicial Conduct. These leases were signed in the years 2014, 2019, and 2020 and are worth $41 million with $13.7 million already paid out. (Note: In 2014, RXR bought the building and the state agencies were existing tenants.)
The public has a right to know whether Cuomo was serving the public interest or his private political interest when his administration negotiated these leases. Every single transaction is a potential conflict of interest.
Furthermore, in 2011, the governor appointed Rechler to the Board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he became chairman. In 2017, the governor nominated Rechler to the Board of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and he served until 2019.
Big Four Accounting Firms – $360,000 in campaign cash
The independent accounting firms, Deloitte; Ernst & Young (EY); KPMG; and PriceWaterhouseCooper collectively gave Gov. Cuomo $360,000 in campaign donations during years 2014-2019. The firms reaped $258.8 million in state payments.
Between 2013 and 2015, New York regulatory agencies and the governor investigated Deloitte, PwC, and EY for alleged wrongdoing. The firms paid $45 million and other penalties to settle the various claims.
Are these firms “independent” auditors with a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers? We found that the firms coordinated their campaign cash to the governor giving the same amounts on the same days in the same years.
Three of the Big Four – PwC, KPMG, and EY – each gave the exact same amount of campaign cashto Cuomo during the six-year period ($88,333.33). Deloitte contributed another $105,000.
We have been railing about for-profit nursing and rehabilitation facilities for years: when an elder care facility, any version of elder care, is for-profit, there is utter lawlessness. Money flows like water through a sieve, unencumbered by laws or oversight.
A thorough review of the names of for-profit nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in New York, cross-checked with PPP Loans reveals that many of them (and/or their attorneys) were some of the largest recipients of PPP Loans during the first round of Covid relief. The second round remains to be seen. They will likely be the first to get PPP Loan forgiveness even though many of them did little, or more accurately nothing to protect their employees or their patients. In fact, the word “nothing” here is quite forgiving. It would mean a passive omission, simple apathy.
To put the narrative in a more truthful perspective, many of the for-profit nursing homes fed their own pockets with the Covid-19 funding. That money should have guaranteed staffing but they were underpaying wages or not hiring. And, many of the country’s nursing homes are owned by the same or similar groups of owners, and they actively manipulated and continue to manipulate the system to profit from Covid-19. Yes! To profit!
Many nursing homes (though not all) take out life insurance on their patients with them as beneficiaries of the policy, when the patient signs in. If that patients makes it past 30-days to 60-days depending upon the policy, the death of the patient generates income to the homes. It is a win/win. Well, the insurers are out – but there is little oversight there either. These are small money policies that generally are unregulated by the insurance industry.
LeadingAge, the “elder care facility advocacy group” believes that the failure of many of these homes cannot be fixed by oversight it can only be fixed by adding money. The comments by LeadingAge imply that there is not enough money to help these facilities take appropriate care of their patients. That is a vile and utterly false interpretation of events. The business model is profit above all else. A view from 30,000 feet shows his analysis doesn’t match the math with respect to many, if not all, of the for-profit elder care facilities.
The problem, in this blogger’s humble opinion: YOU CANNOT BUY MORALITY. IF YOU ARE LACKING IN A MORAL COMPASS, THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THE WORLD THAT WILL FIX THAT. ADDITIONAL MONEY SIMPLY FEEDS THE MONSTER!
The nursing and rehabilitation home industry is a well-played, well-gamed and manipulated system run by super savvy individuals or groups who know how to game every aspect of the operation. Many are partially owned by the attorneys who represent them and some of those attorneys, at least in NY, help decide who runs on political tickets. These “moblike” industry is a web of somewhat incestuous industry connections. The Elder Care Centers will contract out linen and food services to friends, family or even themselves (a rose by any other name…). They buy drugs from distribution or drug companies owned or operated by their friends, colleagues or even their own corporate enterprises who provide a scratch on their proverbial backs. Foodservice is provided by friends, family or interrelated entities. Mobile medicine is provided by interrelated companies.
These facilities use inexpensive sharps for things like insulin and other injectable drugs that often result in more pain to the patient but less pain to the bottom line. Many reuse insulin or other injectable drug vials but charge each patient for their own, sometimes stockpiling the extra meds and sidestepping laws that prevent the reuse of needles or vials. Instead of giving their patients the name-brand drugs they may have used before admission to their facilities, they give them the generics and file claims for name-brand. They often fail to provide necessary services: occupational, speech, physical and other therapies, they claim to provide those services and bill for them; but many of the patients will attest to what they are not getting and therapy is on the top of that list. They charge for doctor’s visits that don’t happen or are substituted by RN’s, NP’s or PA’s so the doctors are often paid multiple times for the same hour in a day – a reward for often misdiagnosing ailments or over-diagnosing meds.
Facilities that have specialized Dialysis centers associated with their services have little reason to protect a diabetic’s kidneys when a slow destruction of the kidneys yields greater profit. Dialysis is far more profitable then kidney treatment and insulin.
These numbers can be obtained for the asking by law enforcement or anyone reading this blog. Nursing homes and rehabilitations centers need strict oversight absent loopholes. For-profit nursing homes need to be de-licensed – all of them. The ownership of the homes is available on public links. The links between owners in different states can be found by cross checking ownership state-by-state. We have done this analysis with respect to about 30 of the largest of the and most mafia-like ownership groups, which, by the way, own some of the country’s worst nursing homes. We are not stating anything that is not otherwise publicly available and we have been making these claims for years.
No one should be listening to the lobbyists. They have an agenda and quality care for elderly and vulnerable individuals is a far too altruistic endeavor. The lobbyists also have skin-in-the-game and it amounts to a fortune!
Among the 19 bills is one sponsored by Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan) that would prohibit the creation of any new for-profit homes and impose a morratorium expanding the capacity of existing homes.
“Lots of people have been discovering that there are enormous problems in our nursing homes. COVID may have brought them to light and made them worse but a lot of us know those problems have been there for many, many, many years,” Gottfried said during Thursday’s remote Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Health.
He railed against the for-profit industry in an interview later Thursday evening with NY1, arguing those nursing homes often have higher infection rates and instances of bed sores among patients.
“We’re not going to license any more for-profit nursing homes or for-profit beds,” he said. “We should stop the creation of for-profit beds…you should [operate a nursing home] to care for people not because you want to make money.”
Right now, there are 401 for-profit, privately owned nursing homes out of the roughly 619 in the Empire State, according to a January report from the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.