Four New Things

Michigan Launches ABLE Accounts

Michigan will unveil details about it’s ABLE program November 1. ABLE is the Achieving Better Life Experience  ACT that each State can implement, and that allows for tax-free savings accounts to be established for persons with disabilities.  Click here for an update on the Michigan account, written by our own Chris Smith (who was instrumental in the drafting of the Michigan law).

New LTC Ombudsman

As previously discussed, the State Long Term Care Ombudsman has relocated from inside State government to a legal services agency, the Michigan Advocacy Program; and long time ombudsman Sarah Slocum is retiring. The Michigan Advocacy Program has announced that they have hired Salli Pung as the new State Ombudsman.

Ms. Pung has previously acted as the state’s Nursing Facility Closure Coordinator.  Ms. Pung. has also served as the Program Manager in the MI Health Link program. In addition, Ms. Pung  was formerly a Senior Program Manager at the Center for Long Term Care at the Michigan Public Health Institute and the Director of Education at the non-profit Michigan Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. .

New DOL Rules Establish Fiduciary Duties

The Federal Department of Labor has issues new regulations designed to increase consumer protections in the context of obtaining financial advice with respect to their retirement funds. The critical change is the imposition of a “fiduciary” duty on the financial advising industry, which will require them to act in the consumer’s best interests.  These rules should dramatically alter the conduct of investment advisors who push clients into high commission products that are not necessarily in the client’s best interest.  As discussed on this blogsite before, the sale of high commission products (most notably, annuities) to older investors at chicken dinner seminars is one of the primary forms of financial exploitation that older adults have faced.  While this change only applies to retirement accounts, it is hoped that the change will disincentive such conduct across the board.  The Feds appear to be willing to take on the financial services industry in a manner that state lawmakers are not.  To read more about these changes, click here and here.

New Regulations re NH Rights

And more good news from the Feds in that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently released new nursing home regulations designed to improve (provide more protections) in the discharge process. To read all 700 pages, click here.

I was fortunate to sit in on a presentation on this topic by Alison Hirschel, Director of the Michigan Elder Justice Initiative, my takeaways were:

  • The normal protections for discharge remain in place even when the resident has been sent to the hospital or pysch ward. That means, sending people to the psych ward isn’t a way for nursing homes to avoid the discharge rules.
  • Pre-dispute arbitration clauses are now banned.
  • Before a discharge is allowed, it must be demonstrated that the facility accepting the resident can meet their needs.

All good.