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The Elder Justice Act – Not New, But Still Important for Long-Term Care Facilities

Although the Elder Justice Act took effect in 2010 and the newness has worn off a bit, health care facilities should periodically look at the Act and its requirements. Compliance with the Act’s requirements is not a one-time event. Among other things, the Act requires owners and operators of long-term care facilities to annually notify specific individuals, including operators and managers of facilities, of their individual reporting requirements. Facilities must also post signs specifying the rights of employees under the Act. If your facility has not yet completed its annual notification requirement or complied with posting requirements, make plans to rectify this immediately.

The reporting requirements for employees of facilities include reporting to the Department of Health and Human Services and law enforcement any reasonable suspicion of a crime against an individual residing in or receiving care from a long-term care facility. Generally, suspicious events must be reported within 24 hours, but serious bodily injury requires reporting within 2 hours after becoming suspicious. Employees reporting these crimes are protected from retaliation by the facility.

Fines for failure to report penalties can be as high as $200,000, and if the failure exacerbates the harm to the victim, as high as $300,000. Although these are penalties against the individual that fails to report, facilities could face penalties for an employee’s failure to act which include making the facility ineligible to receive federal funding. A facility that retaliates against an employee can be penalized up to $200,000 and also become ineligible for federal funding for 2 years.

If you operate a long-term care facility, review your policies and procedures to be sure you are complying with the Act. If you need advice or assistance with your review, contact Christopher Tully or the Tydings & Rosenberg Senior Housing Group has several experienced attorneys available to assist you.