Guardianship is supposed to be a legal tool, but many nursing homes are abusing it. My Elder can help your family avoid this tragedy!
Nursing homes in New York State have been accused of using ‘guardianship petitions’ as a means to coerce elderly residents into paying outstanding fees.
A startling expose in the New York Times this week discusses a number of instances where nursing homes have requested courts to transfer guardianship away from the family. Ostensibly these requests are prompted by family feuds, suspected embezzlement or just the absence of relatives to help secure Medicaid coverage.
However, judges, legal experts, and others well versed in the guardianship process claim that often the petitions are used as a means of duress.
In a guardianship case last year involving a 94-year-old resident in a Jewish aged care facility, New York Supreme Court judge Alexander John Hunter issued a scathing 11-page critique of the motivations behind the petition made by the nursing home’s management.
In a more recent case, this time involving a family who refused to pay exorbitant rates to a Catholic nursing home, a court evaluator threw out the guardianship petition and questioned the motivations of the facility. The family spent US$10,000 in legal fees fighting the case.
Some nursing homes argue that guardianship petitions are the best way to resolve disputes about payment for care. The alternative is to sue an incapacitated resident who cannot respond.
“When you have families that do not cooperate and an incapacitated person, guardianship is a legitimate means to get the nursing home paid”, said Brett D. Nussbaum, a lawyer for the Catholic nursing home Mary Manning Walsh.
Article published without the permission of the Author. To continue reading on My Elder, click here.
New York’s now infamous corporate immunity law for nursing home executives has been placed on the legislative docket for repeal. The law, slipped into last year’s budget by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shielded nursing homes from liability as they were forced by the governor to accept patients presumed to have COVID into their facilities.
Last Spring, while the national media was celebrating Cuomo, The Daily Poster helped break open the story of Cuomo passing the law after receiving huge campaign donations from the corporate group pushing it. As The Daily Poster reported earlier this week, the law has shielded administrators and executives from liability for a wide range of negligence claims, even those that don’t appear to be directly related to COVID.
Governor Andrew Cuomo offered blanket immunity from prosecution for negligent nursing home executives last year. Now those who lost love ones during the pandemic thanks to those executives’ greed have nowhere to turn. Those who put profit over human life — and Cuomo — need to be held responsible.
As the Daily Poster reported last May, the Cuomo administration quietly inserted the liability shield provision into the state’s 2020 budget bill after a powerful health care industry group that donated more than $1 million to Cuomo’s political machine drafted and lobbied for the law.
The provision was ostensibly designed to help nursing homes as they made difficult decisions in the face of an unprecedented emergency. But the law extended the protections not just to medical staff, but also to corporate executives — and critics worried that the law would allow the facilities’ owners and operators to cut corners and risk people’s lives without repercussions.
As lawmakers pushing to revoke the measure noted in a legislative memo that month, the immunity law “egregiously uses severe liability standards as a means to insulate health care facilities and specifically, administrators and executives of such facilities, from any civil or criminal liability for negligence.”
Now, as Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic has exploded into a national scandal amid revelations of suppressed COVID death counts alongside reported threats against Cuomo critics and allegations of sexual harassment, the Daily Poster has found the law is indeed insulating nursing home administrators and executives from civil or criminal liability for their actions.
Over much of the past year, the provision has apparently had a chilling effect across the state, causing many lawyers to refuse all new nursing home–related negligence cases, whether or not they seem to be directly related to COVID-19, and limiting the scope of other legal actions begun before the pandemic. Though New York has seen more than fifteen thousand nursing home deaths, there have only been a handful of wrongful death cases filed in the state, according to data compiled by the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, which has been tracking COVID-related cases.
On April 3, 2020, as the media was reporting on how New York was becoming a global coronavirus hot spot, Cuomo signed into law the state’s budget bill for the year, which included a little-noticed provision on page 347 that noted that executives, board members, trustees, and other corporate officials at nursing homes and other health care facilities “shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing health care services” related to COVID-19.
The liability shield, which covered both lawsuits and criminal prosecutions, was made retroactive to March 7, 2020. A Cuomo spokesperson would later insist the measure wasn’t due to industry influence — but lobbyists suggested otherwise.
The day before the measure became law, the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) — a major lobbying group that represents hospital systems, including some that own nursing homes, that has donated more than $1.25 million to Cuomo’s political operation — sent out a memo stating it had “drafted and aggressively advocated for this legislation.”
As GNYHA noted to its members in the announcement, “You and your heroic workers have enough to agonize over without having to worry about liability for decisions and actions made under extraordinarily challenging circumstances.”
The provision’s effect was immediate.
Holly Mosher, a partner at the Friedlander & Mosher, PC law firm in Ithaca, which focuses on nursing home negligence cases, told the Daily Poster that before then, her firm usually followed up on several reports of alleged nursing home abuse or neglect each week. Now, suddenly, they weren’t looking into any potential new cases at all. That included not just allegations of residents getting sick or dying from COVID-19 because of improper conditions, but also claims of negligence that seemed to have little to do with coronavirus at all, such as preventable injuries and bedsores, other than the fact that the incidents occurred in the middle of the pandemic.
To continue reading the article in its entirety, click here.
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.
Note to Reader: Lisa Siegel Belanger, the attorney who should be honored for her courage has been suspended for two (2) years. Why? She and her sister wanted to get her father out of the Massachusettes Guardianship system. On the bright side, they did not have the same leverage, a Bar license, to use against her sister. Please read the story. Please also note that Netflix removed her story. That said, “I CARE A LOT” tells the same story.
Upon years of my reviewing and obtaining voluminous court documentation throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—particularly, in my professional experience as an attorney, there is no doubt, whatsoever, that public officials have been operating a racketeering enterprise through the probate and family courts, feeding off our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly.
These public officials do so through physical and financial exploitation of the elderly. 
In 2015, I filed a federal civil action in the District Court of Massachusetts providing overwhelming and irrefutable documentation that state elder protective agencies is one cog of many in a long-embedded governmental money laundering and embezzlement enterprise.
As laid out in my 2015 federal racketeering complaint, illicit monies are funneled through kickbacks arising from prescribed medications (especially antipsychotics) and fraudulent billings for Medicare & Medicaid services.
The indisputable fact is that these state “protective” agencies have a financial incentive to unlawfully initiate court proceedings in the Probate & Family Courts to have our family members judicially declared wards of the state.
For example, Medicaid services are reimbursable for “all of the activities involved in an APS (Adult protective services) investigations of allegations of abuse.” 
The Medicaid program process is called Administrative Claiming. For “non-providers,” funds for APS investigations are provided by Title XIX Medicaid Administration.
UNDER SEC. 2042. [42 U.S.C. 1397m-1], Social Security also provides funds specific to investigating reported elder abuse via the Department of Health & Human Services. In 2011, $3 million dollars from Social Security was funded for “investigative” services, and $4 million each year from 2012-2014.
medical providers and nonmedical entities receive kickbacks for the mere reporting of elder abuse.
Add to that, medical providers have even more of a financial incentive to facilitate reports of elder abuse where they have a subsequent and additional steady stream of income to be made through providing medical services.
The way to keep that continuous flow of income, people are involuntarily forced into the Probate & Family Courts by state “protective” agencies where they ensue formal court proceedings to declare people “wards of the state” upon which they are then routinely admitted into rehabilitation and/or nursing home facilities against their will.
This is all facilitated by elders being judicially determined to be “incapacitated.”
As shown, the medical community works hand-in-hand with judges and attorneys of the Probate & Family courts to literally abduct our family members by design for pure greed.
These public officials use these court proceedings to do so by claimed “mental health” issues and/or physical illness. Through the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) own published reports, state agencies guised as “protective services” have an established pattern of profiting from dismantling the family unit for more than 30 years nationwide.
Once elders are officially deemed “wards of the state” by Probate & Family Court judges, due to state protective agencies use to hook their claws into our family members, the governmental reign of terror is embedded through these judges appointing guardians and conservators to take absolute control over “the ward.”
At that point, the elder is then stripped of all individual freedoms, including personal decisions involving medical, financial or otherwise.
There is an irrefutable and well-documented pattern of court appointed guardians isolating the ward from family and friends, so as to facilitate involuntary drugging of the ward with antipsychotics and other Big-Pharma medications through subterfuge with the ultimate objective of liquidating the elder’s estate and to use the elder as a means to funnel funds via kickbacks and Medicare & Medicaid fraud.
Do NOT Call Elder Abuse “Hotlines”!
Even more alarmingly, for decades, state Attorney General Offices have continuously bombard citizens with “public service announcements” urging citizens to call “hot lines” to report abuse of elders.
Often times these calls to “elder abuse” hot lines are made “anonymously” with obvious underlying ill-motives, while other citizens are conned into thinking that they are going to be provided help to keep their family unit together when the state government has an established blatant and flagrant pattern of doing the exact opposite—they overtly seek to dismantle the family unit.
Showing the true motives of the offices of the Attorney Generals, they disturbingly blast a narrative that the majority of elder exploitation supposedly occurs by family members. For example, see: [SOURCE REMOVED]
Established evidence shows that governmental abduction of family members involves all ages, all socio-economic backgrounds, and all ethnicities.
Anyone familiar with this blog knows that the cornerstone of the Lost Messiah blog has been, from its inception, the deplorable condition of nursing homes and the abuses of patients within those homes. And the fact that so many of them are run by Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox Jews just makes it worse.
Judaism is founded on the principle of humanity, the sanctity of life, charity and human decency. To criticize the ownership of these nursing homes is not to be anti-Semitic. It is to have a conscience. Anyone not critical of the deplorable condition within many of the country’s nursing homes, New York’s response to Covid-19, the lack of Federal oversight of nursing homes, the endless flow of money from nursing home magnates to politicians and/or to judges and/or to doctors and hospitals and social workers and guardians is to be in my mind, blind or morally bankrupt. That is a full stop.
It was not until recently that I learned to understand the magnitude of the nursing home problem when factoring in guardianship. I did not know. Now that I do, I am just sad. I have seen for myself how it all plays out and it is devastating. Social workers in hospitals are paid to call attention to patients who provide easy targets for guardians, doctors are paid to provide diagnoses like Alzheimer’s, behavioral maladies, mental incapacity or other conditions. Judges are either blindly trusting of guardians or believing of what they are told or are part of the system that awards custody to guardians. Guardians stick patients into nursing homes with which they are connected. When all else fails, or a lawyer willing to stick a thorn in someone’s side comes in, Patient Care Intake Reports are tailored to direct the ward into a particular nursing home usually the one that is in some way connected to the guardian, whether through ownership or a system of payments. Either the ward has problems that the unconnected home cannot handle or the ward’s insurance is not the right kind. It’s all in the narrative. Many guardians are connected to some of the most deplorable nursing homes; and it is to those homes that some proudly send their wards. In other words, they are paid to fill a bed and reward the elderly cash-cow with confinement. It’s all in a day’s work. And it should be noted, the financial connections are publicly available in most states albeit hard to find.
The pockets are so well lined and the wheels are turning constantly, a well oiled corrupt and broken system. The flow of money is a steady stream. The process has been worked out to the most fundamental, almost atomic levels. Politicians are provided with hefty donations. In New York Judges are elected, they too benefit from the donations they receive. The methods of trying to get someone out of guardianship or out of a deplorable nursing home, one in which a ward is placed by a court appointed guardian runs slowly, if at all. So while the system of harming the elderly runs smoothly, the possibility of a correction saunters along at a snail’s pace.
Judges frequently accept the words of guardians at face value, even when it should be apparent that the guardians are dishonest (to put it mildly). Court appointed attorneys, many of them, have been a cog in the wheel of the system for so long that they do not even know the system is broken, or alternatively, they are part of the influencers helping to create certainty that the system will keep running, and…. unencumbered.
Covid-19 has made the problems that much worse. Patients in nursing homes cannot get visitors. There is no oversight, none. The foxes run the henhouses. And the money flows…
The movie “I Care a Lot” a controversial work of art in my opinion, does not delve deeply enough into the abuses of the elderly within the guardianship structure. It does not approach the confounding ability of judges to turn their heads as they grant guardianship of healthy people to individuals who, for lack of a better word, traffic in human lives. The system is broken. From where I sit, it might only work if guardians are rewarded for setting people who do not need their assistance free. Pay someone a ransom, of sorts. Indeed, there are people who need help, need someone to watch over them; and there are perhaps guardians who really care, for whom money is not the ultimate goal. If so, they the unicorns.
But without attention, oversight, accountability and a complete overhaul, the system will keep running. There is simply too much money involved. A human being is worth thousands. And “I Care a Lot” should be teaching legislators, both state and federal a very important lesson: the system needs to be torn down and rebuilt. The guardians need to be stopped. The nursing homes need to be held accountable.
The elderly caught in the system are being abused, treated like animals. Many would have more rights if they attacked their captors and wound up in jail. It is simply a sick reality.
And attorneys who might be helpful in the area of setting people free have the threat of disbarment personal harm hanging over their heads. The system is broken. Without tearing it down, it likely will not get fixed.
2021 | R | 1h 58m | Dark ComediesA court-appointed legal guardian defrauds her older clients and traps them under her care. But her latest mark comes with some unexpected baggage.Starring:Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza González
You can make a lead character reprehensible — even repellent — and still hold on to an audience, but you’d better not make her dull. “I Care a Lot” is a pitch-black karmic comedy of bad behavior and worse payback; it made a stir at this year’s online Sundance festival and landed unexpectedly on Netflix last week. It features just about the worst person imaginable, a woman who bilks senior citizens out of their life savings by becoming their court-appointed guardian. But in Rosamund Pike’s chilly, hollow central performance you may find it difficult to care at all.
A stranger knocks on the door. The older woman who answers the door is informed that the visitor is now her legal guardian and will make all decisions for her. Within days, the older woman has been placed in a nursing home and her home sold so that the stranger may profit.
It’s a perfect opening for a psychological thriller. In fact, it is the opening for Netflix’s new featured movie “I Care a Lot,” starring Rosamund Pike as Marla, a ruthlessly ambitious woman who has made a business out of exploiting older adults. Her method: petitioning a local court to appoint her as emergency guardian for older adults whom she alleges cannot make decisions for themselves.
Unfortunately, the plot of “I Care a Lot” — despite its share of plot twists and theatrics — is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Every state allows courts to appoint a third party (called a “guardian” or “conservator”) to make decisions for someone the court determines is at risk because they lack the ability to make decisions for themselves. The process can provide needed protection to those who are unable to care for themselves. Yet it also has real costs. Not only do individuals for whom guardians are appointed lose the right to make some or nearly all decisions for themselves, but reports of unscrupulous guardians using the system to exploit vulnerable adults are far too common.
This exploitation is made possible, in part, by outdated state laws. Take Marla’s first “trick:” petitioning for a guardianship without telling her elderly mark. State guardianship laws permit courts to appoint “emergency guardians” without notice to either the person alleged to need a guardian or family or friends who might come to their defense. Even when state laws say that individuals are entitled to notice before a guardian is appointed, courts can (and do) waive giving that notice. And long-term guardians are also routinely appointed without the subject of the proceeding being present in court.
EXCLUSIVE – Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., demanded that the Department of Health and Human Services investigate New York nursing home deaths, citing the state attorney general’s report that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration may have undercounted nursing home coronavirus deaths by as much as 50%.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been perhaps nowhere more dangerous than a nursing home. The coronavirus has raced through some 31,000 long-term care facilities in the United States, killing more than 163,000 residents and employees and accounting for more than a third of all virus deaths since the late spring.
Nurse Ratched does not reflect the caring, self-sacrificing nursing profession. Richard Gere’s nefarious legal tactics in “Chicago” would get a real attorney disbarred. Steve Martin’s sadistic, nitrous-oxide-huffing Orin Scrivello in “Little Shop of Horrors” is certainly not representative of the dental profession. Similarly, Pike’s portrayal of guardianship is a performance designed to engage viewers and generate an emotional response, but it is not rooted in reality. All of these are examples of art created to tug at viewers’ emotions to make the respective films more captivating.