From KKD: Fines against Nursing Homes are just a slap on the wrist, or less, in Illinois

Fines Against Unsafe Nursing Homes Are Considered A Slap On The Wrist

Submitted by AnneScheetz on Thu, 2016-07-28 14:18
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Aug 1 2016
Stephanie Francis Ward
ABA Journal

Mary Mims has 32 years of experience working as a registered nurse, including time spent managing nursing home staffs. None of that could save the life of her mentally ill daughter, Letasha, who at the age of 36 died after an almost two-year stay at the Chicago nursing home Alden Wentworth.

Mims felt she could trust Alden Wentworth. After all, she once worked for its parent company, Alden Management Services, as an administrator overseeing various facilities, including the home where she placed her daughter.

“The mistake I made was gambling on the fact that these people knew me, and I trusted them to take care of my daughter,” Mims says.

Letasha Mims had been diagnosed with schizophrenia after she started showing symptoms in her 20s. Around that same time, Letasha stopped speaking. “I always felt that was a psychological thing, and whatever the trauma was, the health care system never got to the bottom of it.”

When assigned to outpatient care, Letasha frequently wandered away from home. Mims would have preferred to care for her there, but the need to work to support them both made that a practical impossibility. Finally, Mims decided that Letasha needed to be in a nursing home, where her condition could be monitored and Letasha would be safe. That proved problematic.

In the 11 years before her death in August 2014, Letasha Mims lived at six different nursing homes. Each move had been made necessary by Mims’ fear that her daughter’s safety was in jeopardy. As a registered nurse, Mims believed that at times her daughter was being overmedicated with sedatives and antipsychotic drugs; at others, Letasha had bouts with a highly contagious skin disease known as scabies. But Mims says she worried most about the potential for sexual assault because Letasha was placed in locked units, often with men diagnosed with mental illness and side effects of drug abuse. Many nursing homes often refuse to admit young women precisely because of the high risk of sexual assault. And in places that do, supervision is often scant.

In February 2014, Mims was visiting Letasha after work when she realized that her daughter was running a seriously high fever. “I bent down to kiss her, and the heat was just coming off her,” says Mims. When Mims asked that Letasha be properly hospitalized for what appeared to be a life-threatening fever, the staff balked. “I had to insist that Letasha be sent to the hospital for evaluation because her fever was 104, in spite of having had a couple of rounds of antibiotics,” Mims says.

Letasha never returned to Alden Wentworth and died six months later in hospice care. Her fever had subsided, but never left. Mims believes that her elevated temperatures were the result of a pressure sore that developed into osteomyelitis. “She had a sacrum wound. It got infected down to the bone. She never recovered from that wound. She finally broke down, and that was the end of it.”

It was not the end of it for Mims. She has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alden Wentworth. As a nurse and a former colleague, Mims says she had hoped for better treatment for her daughter. But Letasha’s last days at Alden Wentworth were spent in what Mims remembers as a cesspool of systemic negligence: days marked by urine-soaked linens, feces-laden toileting pads, aggravated bedsores, malnourishment and gangrene.

A FINE SYSTEM

The lack of regulatory response was even more galling to Mims. Illinois state regulators investigated the circumstances of Letasha’s death and found no wrongdoing at Alden Wentworth. As in many states, nursing home regulation in Illinois has become what some describe as toothless and sporadic. And a brief history of state intervention at Alden Wentworth before and after Letasha’s death suggests a curiously comfortable relationship between regulators and the regulated.

In 2010, the facility had been cited by the state for negligence involving the sexual assault of a female resident. Surveyors noted that the male accused in the incident had been allowed access to particularly vulnerable female residents—those with Alzheimer’s and dementia—before he had been evaluated for such a potential risk. Likewise, in 2010, a 41-year-old patient with a history of substance abuse had died of an overdose from a Fentanyl patch. Three weeks before his death the Alden Wentworth staff had dispensed to him both the Fentanyl patch and Vicodin, despite a hospital discharge instructing that he not receive narcotics. And in 2008, the home was cited for ignoring foot blisters on a 58-year-old paraplegic with Type 2 diabetes. By going untreated, the blisters became wounds deep enough to make visible the muscles in her feet.

Even had there been a finding in Letasha’s case, the actual outcome of the penalties associated with those earlier violations at Alden Wentworth suggests that any regulatory response would have been minimal. For the overdose death the facility was assessed $5,000. For failure to treat the diabetic, a $10,000 fine was reduced to $2,000. And for the negligence that led to the sexual assault, Alden Wentworth was assessed no fine at all.

This kind of significant fine reduction is a standard practice within the tangle of interdependent state and federal agencies that oversee nursing home regulation. In fact, it’s a regulatory system structured around administrative fines—fines that are reduced so routinely that they have become widely considered a cost of doing business rather than an incentive to provide quality care.

From 2014 through March 2016, the nation’s nursing homes had been fined $121 million for deficiencies, according to federal regulators. In addition, nursing homes that fail to correct deficiencies are at risk of losing Medicare or Medicaid payments for new residents until the corrections occur.

But on closer look, the fines are discounted, often automatically, as a matter of policy. Under federal law, nursing homes can waive their right to appeal fines and get an automatic 35 percent reduction. Between 2008 and 2012, Alden Wentworth was fined a total of $75,000, fines later reduced to $27,500. Between 2005 and 2014, the 27 homes in its parent company, Alden Management Services, were fined $976,675, later reduced by 65 percent to $342,245.

A similar pattern exists statewide. The ABA Journal analyzed Illinois deficiency reports, which show that the state assessed $7.17 million in fines for 934 deficiency findings from 2010 to 2014—the most recent full year for which data was available. Those fines were ultimately reduced by an average of 42 percent to $4.17 million.

In Illinois, nursing homes can challenge deficiency findings through informal dispute resolution or administrative evidence hearings. Most deficiency disputes settle before reaching an administrative hearing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, and it seems that the nursing home operators take full advantage.

For instance, 43 percent of the fines were reduced automatically when the homes cited waived their right to appeal the findings. Another 39 percent of the homes had fines reduced after administrative hearings. In other words, 82 percent of fines levied by Illinois regulators were reduced as a matter of policy.

Even when residents die in nursing homes, fines related to those cases are frequently and significantly reduced. Between 2004 and 2013, the Illinois Department of Public Health examined complaints related to 114 nursing home deaths. The state assessed a total of $3.6 million in fines from those cases. Yet that number was reduced to $1.6 million for final assessed fines. The average final fine amount for a death was just over $14,000.

To complicate matters, nursing homes also can appeal findings in federal administrative evidence hearings. Those rulings can be appealed, as well, to the departmental appeals board. And if a party disputes a DAB finding, it can be appealed to the federal court system. Thus, there is every incentive to delay, appeal or even ignore regulatory action.

“It can take five years or more to exhaust all of these steps, and at each step the fine might be reduced by settlement or an administrative law judge court decision,” says Joseph Bianculli, an Arlington, Virginia, lawyer who defends nursing homes in federal hearings.

Brian Lee, executive director of the advocacy group Families for Better Care, puts it more bluntly: “It’s more profitable for nursing homes to roll the dice with the potential for enforcement, or litigation, than to hire more staff, especially with some penalties being little more than slaps on the wrist.”

Taking care of people who need skilled nursing is a difficult job. Patients arrive with ailments such as dementia, immobility, blindness and respiratory problems, and are often in advanced stages of other diseases. Under these conditions, faltering health could give a false impression of substandard care.

“If you have problems like diabetes—and you’re wheelchair-bound or bed-bound and you’re incontinent—it’s not a surprise to see that pressure sores develop,” says James E. Phelan, a Chicago lawyer who has defended various nursing homes, including Alden, in personal injury lawsuits.

RISK AND REWARD

In Illinois, nursing homes receive $148.92 per day on average for each Medicaid resident. Home operators argue that amount makes it difficult to provide quality care and make enough money to stay in business. A plethora of laws at the state and federal levels make compliance a complicated and expensive process, and excessive fines would be counterproductive.

“If you look at its legislative history, the sole purpose of [fines] imposed by the government was to provide an incentive for providers to come into compliance. It’s remedial, not punitive,” says Alan C. Horowitz, a former federal regulator who now represents skilled care facilities on regulatory issues for Atlanta’s Arnall Golden Gregory.

“This isn’t about the nursing home; it’s about the residents. And if the nursing home is driven out of business or if funds used to pay civil money penalties are diverted from being used for … staff and/or equipment, the fines are not productive,” he says.

But nursing homes are profitable—a significant segment of the senior housing market. Welltower, a real estate investment trust specializing in health care real estate, reported $884 million in net income last year and holds $29 billion in assets. Alden Management Services, a far more modest system owned by Floyd Schlossberg, reported $18.6 million net income in 2014.

Michael Grice believes the sources of profit are personnel-driven. A quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, Grice spent two years in a Chicago nursing home he describes as chronically understaffed. Personnel often worked double shifts and call lights routinely went unanswered. Grice says he had to assert himself. “I was not going to tolerate not being changed and not being fed.” Grice, who now lives on his own, had to insist upon being turned every two hours to avoid pressure sores. But when he was lifted, he says, he was sometimes dropped—once resulting in a broken hip.

The home he was in is Southpoint Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on the Far Southwest Side, whose owners of record are Michael Blisko and Moishe Gubin. Between 2007 and 2014, nursing homes owned by the pair were assessed $169,500 in fines on 15 separate deficiency reports. Those fines were reduced more than half, to $75,565. Blisko and Gubin’s homes reported net income of $5.2 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

Fines, even in such a profitable environment, do not need to be punitive to be effective, says David Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor who handled health care fraud and abuse cases. Based in Philadelphia, he now does reg-ulatory compliance consulting with nursing homes. He says that if a client doesn’t want to comply with regulation, he will fire them.

“It doesn’t have to be about banging providers over the head with fines, but there are some providers who need to be clubbed over the head.”

REGULATION MATTERS

The enforcement of nursing home regulations is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But the CMS relies on state health departments to investigate facility complaints and conduct annual surveys, and then share their findings with the federal government. When inspectors find problems, they list them as “statements of deficiencies,” which come with fines for serious infractions.

Deficiencies can include mistreatment of residents; failure to assist residents who need help with eating, drinking, grooming and personal hygiene; and failure to provide proper care to treat or prevent bedsores. Nursing homes must submit written plans of correction to the state for deficiencies cited, but these are not considered admissions of guilt.

Nursing homes can challenge findings through state administrative evidence hearings or informal dispute resolution. Challenging a fine may be a strategic decision, says Bianculli, the former regulator. He once had a client who appealed a $400 fine, believing that a successful appeal would stop future civil litigation.

“You have to decide in advance what part appealing the fine is going to play in terms of compliance, regulation and your business plan,” Bianculli says. “If you’re going to use the regulatory process to keep the surveyors from running amok or raise issues that need to be addressed, it’s good.”

The CMS makes the final determination for fines related to patients over 65 whose short-term stays are paid by Medicare. But states are responsible for determining fines related to patients whose stays are paid by Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that covers low-income individuals and pays for indefinite nursing home stays.

Of the numerous changes to nursing home regulation set out under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, only a few involved actual enforcement. For instance, proposed new rules would allow binding pre-dispute arbitration agreements between facilities and residents, limiting litigation as an option for residents, a change opposed by the American Bar Association.

In the ACA, nursing home regulation is focused on transparency issues—mainly ownership and management records—hoping to help consumers make informed decisions about their nursing home choices. A pre-existing ratings system, for instance, assigns ratings based on qualitative issues such as health inspections and staff, as well as overall quality of care. But some are skeptical.

“I think that policymakers and politicians love the idea of public reporting of health care quality, because it’s intuitively appealing,” says Tamara Konetzka, an economist and University of Chicago professor who sits on a CMS advisory board. “If you tell consumers which nursing homes are high-quality, they will make their own decisions. Of course it’s much more complicated than that.”

Staff, and issues with staff, are key to a wide range of complaints and deficiency reports. If nursing homes used some of their net earnings to hire more staff, goes the logic, they’d have fewer regulatory deficiencies.

“Illinois is not unlike any other state that has problems, and the reason they have the problems is because they continue to have low staffing at nursing homes,” says Lee of Families for Better Care. “It always comes back to staffing. Whatever the issue is, the underlying problem always goes back to turning people and answering call lights.”

COST VS. CARE

Viewed bluntly, as some do, a regulatory system based almost solely on fines becomes more negotiation than administration, a system that pits cost against patient care. Even the optics of an investigation suggest as much, says Grice, who complained to no avail when his hip was broken after nursing home staff dropped him.

“When the Department of Public Health inspector comes to the nursing home, they may talk to the resident, and they may talk to some staff. Then they talk to the administrator and owner behind closed doors, and a resident never really sees what the end result is.”

Like Grice, Mims has little confidence in the system. “Sadly, the fines are not a deterrent to providing substandard care,” she says. “I absolutely believe that the large [nursing home] chain companies have attorneys that do nothing but fight these types of cases from leading to significant penalties or consequences.”

During the time Letasha was at Alden Wentworth, her mother spent most evenings with her. After a time Mims found herself feeding Letasha, who could no longer feed herself. Before leaving she’d give Letasha a sponge bath and dry her off. These were things the staff should have been doing, but did not.

On weekends Mims brought home Letasha’s clothes to wash. On occasion, she says, her daughter’s clothes would disappear, and she might see other residents wearing the items. But she noticed that the clothing was frequently soaked with urine and feces. And when she complained about it, Alden Wentworth’s director of nursing ignored her concerns.

“Then I did a show and tell,” says Mims, who emptied a bag of Letasha’s dirty clothes in the director’s office. “A pee smell went all over her room, and I said ‘This is what I have to deal with every single week.’ ”

The woman told Mims that she’d handle the problem. She did, Mims says, and for a few weeks her daughter had clean clothes. “Then it went back to what it was.”

One day while picking Letasha’s dirty clothes out of the hamper, Mims noticed rodent feces at the bottom of it mixed up with the bed linens. She again went to the director of nursing and began lining the clothes hamper with garbage bags, thinking that would keep the rodents at bay. Then came the bedsores. Mims was usually the first person to notice them; because of her nursing experience, she knew that wounds would develop if her daughter was repositioned too infrequently.

Under Illinois law, residents who need skilled care are required to get 3.8 hours of nursing and personal care daily. Mims saw no evidence that Letasha was getting even the minimum. She thought a show of generosity might influence the staff to give her daughter better care. She brought them dinner on Thanksgiving, bought lotions and gels for them at Christmas and handed out boxes of candy on Valentine’s Day.

“That didn’t change a thing,” Mims says.

Calling attention to Letasha’s care problems didn’t help either. She frequently complained about Letasha being overmedicated, her bedsores and weight, which according to Mims dropped from 160 pounds to 107 during the Alden Wentworth stay. And as Letasha withered, Mims says, the staff seemed almost defiant.

“They knew I knew what to expect. They knew I knew the system, and they knew I knew the regulation like the back of my hand,” Mims says. “Here’s the problem that I have: That did not bother them. How do you neglect the resident whose mother knows all the regulation? Either you’re cocky, or you just don’t give a hoot.”

Mims began taking pictures of the wound that developed from Letasha’s unattended bedsore. The photos begin with what looks like a scrape, then progress to a gaping wound that exposes her sacrum. When she developed an infection, the staff tried unsuccessfully to treat it with intravenous antibiotics.

When the staff balked at removing Letasha to a hospital with a 104-degree fever, Mims decided it was a matter of money. “It’s an unwritten rule that you don’t send out residents. If the staff doctor gives the residents antibiotics and fluids, then the nursing home still gets to keep the Medicaid payments.” Mims insisted Letasha be moved. She died six months later in hospice care.

After Letasha’s death, Mims sent her photos to Illinois regulators along with her complaints. She was disappointed, but not surprised, when the department found no violations. “I think they had no intention of having any findings. There’s no way you could look at those pictures and not see that there was a problem.”

In 2014, Mims filed a wrongful death suit in Cook County against Alden Wentworth, one of 11 lawsuits filed against the facility in the past two years (see “Lawsuits Fail to Bring Improvements to Nursing Homes”). Omar J. Fayez, a Chicago lawyer who represents Alden Wentworth in the Mims suit, says his client has a policy of not discussing specifics in ongoing litigation. He told theJournal that his client “vehemently denies” any allegations of wrongdoing by Mims and her attorneys.

Mims has since left the nursing home industry, where she worked for 10 years. She now manages quality control for a program that provides health services to Medicaid recipients.

“I have no confidence with the regulatory system whatsoever. That’s the reason I’m not working in long-term care anymore. I knew I was fighting a losing battle,” Mims says. “I will never forget my daughter’s suffering and what she experienced at the end of her life. It is what keeps me driven to change this horrible system called long-term care.”

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein contributed research and editing to this story. He’s an investigative journalist who has worked on stories about nursing homes since 2004, and his previous coverage helped spark state and federal reform; in 2015 his work earned recognition from the National Press Club.

This article originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “The Human Cost of Doing Business: Fines against nursing homes are routinely reduced and considered a slap on the wrist rather than incentives to provide better care.”

 

Sidebar

METHODOLOGY

The ABA Journal filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Illinois Department of Public Health to receive data on nursing home fines from 2010 to 2014, the most recent full year for which data was available. The request asked for, and the agency provided, information about the amounts and dates of the initial and final fines, as well as whether the facility decided to appeal the fine. The Journal used that information to calculate the percentage of fines that were appealed, the average time the IDPH took to arrive at a final fine and the amount by which the original fines were reduced. For the analysis involving fines and deaths, the Journal looked at quarterly reports posted between 2004 and 2013 on the IDPH website for all incidents where any facility in the state was fined at least $20,000. The Journal used the docket or incident number from the FOIA request and the website to confirm that they were the same.

Comments

No investor-owned for-profit nursing homes!

Permalink Submitted by AnneScheetz on Thu, 2016-07-28 14:33
1) Michael Grice, who was elected to the Board of ISPC in 2016, has testified before the Illinois legislature about staffing ratios in nursing homes (http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/testimony-nurse-ratios-nursing-homes). 2) Disability rights activists have demonstrated for meaningful enforcement of nursing home standards (http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/disability-rights-activists-demonstrate-alden-village-north). 3) Nursing home workers have protested low wages and understaffing (http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/nursing-home-workers-hold-vigil-protest-working-conditions). 4) Under the single-payer health care system we work for, no entity providing direct patient care could be investor-owned-for-profit. The money currently diverted to profit would go to patient care. Investor-owned for-profit nursing homes provide inferior care compared to not-for-profits (http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/nonprofit-nursing-homes-provide-better-care-major-study-finds). 5) In Chicago, nursing homes whose residents are mostly black provide inferior care compared to those whose residents are mostly white (http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/notorious-nursing-homesand http://ilsinglepayer.org/article/disparate-nursing-home-care); single-payer would not automatically solve this problem, but it would mean that reimbursement would be the same for all patients instead of differing by payment source as is the case now. It is the goal of the single-payer movement to eliminate health disparities based on race, ability, gender, and all other characteristics. Anne Scheetz
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From Ken Ditkowsky–Fines why are we taxing hospitals when most are NFP’s–a bunch of BS govt accounting.

NEW YEAR’S GREETINGS – – The Candor gap!

One of the problems with fraud is that it is a cancer and all too often the adage – “you cannot defraud an honest man” comes into play.    Health care’s 700% fraud surcharge could not happen if the various governments were themselves HONEST.   The Illinois political elite whose criminal activities are such an embarrassment have a great deal of company.   Decent people everywhere are appalled when a major political figure goes on television and has the temerity to tell multiple whoopers that he knows are absolutely untrue.    These same members of the great unwashed get even more upset when the media repeats the prevarication as the truth over and over again and when someone speaks out in frustration: “stop lying!” the protester is labeled *****.
Usually the lying by the POLITICAL ELITE is not obvious, and sometimes it is inventive.   Official money laundering by States with health care funds is disclosed in the current WALL STREET JOURNAL article reproduced infra.    It reveals your dollars at work DEFRAUDING you, to wit:

Why Tax Hospitals? It’s a Medicaid Shell Game

Providers pay the state. The state pays providers, then collects matching funds from Uncle Sam.

By

Red Jahncke

Dec. 29, 2017 5:22 p.m. ET

When Connecticut faced a budget shortfall of $2.2 billion, or 11%, this year, it helped close the gap by almost doubling its tax on hospitals, to $900 million. Taxing hospitals sounds strange, especially since most are nonprofits. It also would seem to increase their costs and, thus, the cost of care—much of which, thanks to Medicaid, is borne by the state that levies the tax.

Yet 42 states tax hospitals. Why? One answer is the perverse incentives built into the Medicaid law. When a state returns tax money to hospitals through Medicaid “supplemental payments,” it qualifies for matching funds from Washington.

Connecticut hospitals will pay $900 million in taxes, but the state will offset that with $600 million in supplemental Medicaid payments—matched with $450 million of federal funds. The state keeps those matching funds, plus the $300 million from the hospital tax, meaning Hartford comes out ahead in the whole scheme by $750 million. Nice work if you can get it.

Medicaid supplemental payments, as the term implies, are separate and distinct from the reimbursements that cover the actual cost of services rendered to beneficiaries. But the federal government turns a blind eye to the circular nature of the arrangement: Hospitals and other providers are both the source and the recipient of most of the funds. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services simply sees the supplemental payments to providers and matches them roughly in line with each state’s federal medical assistance percentage, or FMAP—the same rate used to reimburse actual medical costs.

The University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, 2013.
The University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, 2013. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Each state’s FMAP is calculated based on how its personal income compares with the national average. Apart from the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare, FMAPs range from 50% in wealthy states to about 67% in the poorest states.

Medicaid’s model of shared federal-state responsibility is supposed to be based broadly upon FMAPs. But supplemental-payment schemes undermine that and “have the effect of shifting costs to the federal government,” according to a 2014 study by the Governmental Accountability Office. The more a state taxes its hospitals and then gives them money back, the more federal funds it can obtain.

No wonder taxes on medical providers have both risen and widened as the Medicaid program has grown costlier. The hospital tax is the biggest revenue-raiser, but 44 states also tax nursing homes, and 34 tax at least one other type of health-care provider. The GAO study found that these taxes had almost doubled nationally, from about $9.5 billion in 2008 to $18.5 billion in 2012, as new states like Connecticut jumped into the game, while others, such as Missouri, played more intensely. The Show Me State increased its provider taxes by one-third between 2008 and 2012, from about $1.5 billion to $2 billion. In the past five years even more states have jumped in and FMAPs have risen under the ObamaCare expansion of Medicaid.

The only real federal limit on this gaming of the system is a rule setting maximum health-care provider taxation at 6% of the tax base—in the case of hospitals, “net patient revenue.” But that limit isn’t really a limit; it’s a threshold below which states enjoy a safe harbor from federal action. States can submit, and CMS can approve, plans that exceed the threshold. And according to Connecticut officials, the state is blasting through the threshold with a tax of about 12% on hospital outpatient revenue while simultaneously maxing out at 6% on the inpatient side.

The GAO study is the most recent comprehensive look at taxes on medical providers, so we simply do not know how much they have grown since 2012. CMS itself may not know. The GAO study noted that “CMS does not collect accurate and complete data from all states on the various sources of funds to finance the nonfederal share. . . . According to federal internal control standards, federal agencies should collect accurate and complete data to monitor programs they oversee.”

Given the executive branch’s laxity, Congress should increase its oversight. The hospital-tax scheme increases the federal share in the Medicaid partnership in a convoluted, opaque, bureaucratically time-consuming and arguably unintended manner. It is inherently inefficient and costly. It distorts the operation and the perception of the health-care system. This is bad governance that legislators shouldn’t countenance.

Some proposals in Congress would reduce the 6% limit. Lawmakers should adopt the lowest proposal, 3%, and instruct CMS to enforce it strictly, not treat it as safe harbor. Otherwise, if Congress wants to raise the federal share of Medicaid funding, it should do so with a straightforward across-the-board increase in FMAPs.

If Congress determines that some states need financial assistance, it should devise a separate program expressly for that purpose. But state schemes that take advantage of Medicaid to gain general financial assistance are a perversion of government that ought to stop.

Mr. Jahncke is president of the Townsend Group International

From FB: News story shows shocking level of corruption in our nation’s court systems. Two children taken from mom for no reason.

http://fox17.com/news/ferrier-files/ferrier-files-do-criminals-have-more-rights-than-parents-in-tennessee

This poor mom lost her kids for 2 months and did nothing wrong.  The judge and DCFS worker(s) need to be fired.  Immediately.

FERRIER FILES: Do criminals have more rights than parents in Tennessee?

(Fox 17 News)

AA
It is pretty hard to believe that serial killers have more rights than parents in Tennessee, but once you enter the Juvenile Justice System, anything can happen.

And even if you do absolutely nothing wrong, your children can be taken from you. It may sound like a ridiculous question but not when you consider what happened to a Williamson County, Tennessee, mom.

It all started when Tori’s 3-year-old son told her something inappropriate happened to him when he was with their father. The couple is divorced.

Tori followed the law and reported it to DCS.

“I was interrogated for two to three hours with no videotape, no attorney present,” Harper said. “I was a little intimidated, but at that time I still didn’t think I had done anything wrong when I realized they were investigating me.”

Remember, there is no allegation against Tori Harper, yet DCS asked her to surrender her kids on the spot and relinquish custody during the investigation.

“There was no way I was going to give strangers custody of my children even for a day or two especially with that going on,” Harper said. “I wanted my children.”

The next day she said DCS secretly went to Williamson County Juvenile Judge Sharon Guffee and asked for an ex-parte order to get custody of the kids. The judge signed the order even though Tori wasn’t present to defend herself.

DCS claimed Tori Harper was mentally unstable…

“I’ve never had a speeding ticket,” Harper said. “I have no mental health history. I’m a good mom. I love my kids. I was a room mom that year for my oldest son.”

Her lawyer, family law specialist Connie Reguli, said this is standard practice, and it is nasty stuff.

“For people who don’t know what e x-parte means it is behind the back,” Reguli said. “They knew Tori. They certainly had an opportunity to get it before the court. Instead they get an ex-parte order to get her children in custody of DCS. DCS can do whatever they want to them. They obviously didn’t want Tori or her lawyer there.”

The only consolation was that Tori’s parents would be the foster parents during the investigation. When they all went back to court, Judge Guffee ordered Harper and her parents be drug tested eventhough none of them had any drug history.

Her father couldn’t get to the drug test because he was keeping the kids and didn’t have car seats. Harper said DCS locked herself and her mom in a room after their drug tests and told them they would send a squad car out with the boys’ car seats so Harper’s dad could go take the drug test.

Once police finally arrived at the home, they brought a new court order signed by Judge Guffee giving DCS custody of the kids, who were going into foster care that night.

“The things that these people did to our family was so against our fourth amendment rights,” said Tori’s dad Tom Naïve. “I said boys you got to go with the policeman and so I watched them walk to that police car and get in the back of the police car. All I could do is go inside and blow up and blow up. I was helpless.”

The oldest boy Ethan still remembers that night.

“I was scared,” Ethan said. “When I got in the car, I started crying. They told me my grandpa didn’t want me. He had never told me that. It hurt my heart.”

This family without a single allegation of abuse or neglect or even a failed drug test lost their two boys to DCS.

“There is nobody that knows me that would say there is anything I love more than being a mom,” Harper said. “But one thing I know is I am a good mom, a good mom and I love my kids so much.”

So what was DCS and the court hinging this removal on? That Tori Harper was mentally unstable. She got an independent psychological evaluaton and passed flying colors; doctors, dentists, records, report cards, high test scores formed a lazer-focused rebuttal to DCS and Williamson County Juvenile court.

DCS dismissed the case and Judge Guffee returned the children to Harper. The children were in state custody for two months.

Family law attorney Connie Reguli said this story may sound shocking, but it is common.

“Criminals have more rights and protections than parents,” Reguli said. “Once they have your children in the system they are in total control…and while this may have a happy ending. There are scars and trauma, real trauma.”

“So when i got my son back, keep in mind he always held my hair when I would sing him to bed every night,” Harper said. “Well when he was in foster care he was so upset that he would pull his own hair in bed, and he ended up with a big bald spot.”

Her son Andrew now believes in monsters and holds his mom’s hair, praying they will never come back.

DCS said the law prohibits it from commenting on specific juvenile case but pointed out that all of its actions were approved by a judge. Tennessee judges are also prohibited from discussing cases.

From FB: Barbara Latham’s mother abused and murdered

My mother gave permission to post her involuntary stealth euthanasia at Houston Hospice room 315, Houston, Texas, 77030 by starvation and opiates and other sedative toxic drugs. Christmas week 2017.

My only question is why is there no public outrage over these stories?  People donate to save animals all the time, but this is how grantma ends up?  Disgusting.  We must do more for elder rights and justice. So far all we have is lipservicebarbara.lathammom

From Ken Ditkowsky–Happy New Year and prayers for those who cannot see their loved ones

because their loved ones are involved in abuse probate proceedings

From Ken

The human trafficking in the elderly continues virtually unabated as the year 2017 ends, and 2018 beings.   The only distinction is that America can no longer afford to cater to the criminals who prey on elderly, isolate them from their prior lives, deprive them of their humanity, human rights, and civil rights as they redistribute their wealth to the corrupt Political elite.    The 700% fraud surcharge has become  intolerable and  too heavy a burden for America to absorb.     We must have HONEST INVESTIGATIONS of the health care industry along with vigorous prosecutions of the criminals engaging in this human trafficking.    It is not enough to legislature, pontificate, or complain that x, y, and z is not doing enough.
The reach of this criminal enterprise (whether called human trafficking, elder cleansing, or guardian for profit – or all of the above) is a terrorist assault on the core values of America.   It pollutes every aspect of our lives.    Even in death we are not free of these bastards.
A while back Probate Sharks and MaryGSykes carried the following on their respective blogs.   The media was not interested, law enforcement gave it a shrug, the lawyer disciplinary commissions turned a deaf ear – especially Jerome Larkin the IARDC, however, a few recognized that such could happen to “yours truly.”
Most of us rationalized – “I have a loving family and they would be there to protect me and thee!”   Jerome Larkin summed up the attitude of the POLITICAL &JUDICIAL ELITE, when he equated the disclosure of corruption in the judiciary on the blog MaryGSykes to “yelling fire in a crowded theater.”   Indeed, Larkin viewed the exposure of corruption to be so dastardly and pernicious he openly and notorious not only stretched the truth, misrepresented SCOTUS rulings, but successfully demanded from the Illinois Supreme Court interim suspensions of the license of Attorney JoAnne Denison who was infamously reporting criminal activity of Judges in Cook County, Illinois and elsewhere.
Indeed, even the official criminal intimidation, perjury, and breach of the public trust did not deter Attorney Denison and on her blog appeared a post from PROBATE SHARKS (written by yours truly), to wit:

 From Probate Sharks Blog: Hijacking a Fla. Estate for millions from Chicago

Posted on July 28, 2016

On the pages of the Probate Sharks blog is the following: Irving Faskowitz probate court case. Irving’s 2 million dollar estate was high jacked by Chicago and New York non-relatives who were also named Faskowitz. The real Faskowitz heirs never were informed of Irving’s death and never saw a penny.

One of the biggest problem that exists today is the unequal enforcement of the law, or the enforcement of the law to protect particular interests.    There is no question that when a person is placed in a police vehicle while in custody, and emerges dead there is a problem that the community should be concerned with.   The prosecutor knew that the individual was not murdered and no intent crime could be proven; however, in the true spirit of an opportunist unethical member of the political elite five police officers were ‘over charged’ with crimes that could not sustained.

The issue of whether or not criminal charges of some kind should have been brought is not relevant as the establishment was looked for a scapegoat.   It is this tactic that is destroying the basic institutions of America.   Special interests can routine ‘fix’ the process or the case and a large segment of the population screams to deaf ears the words: “foul!”

A burr under the skin has been the Florida Irving Faskowitz case.    Briefly the facts are allegedly as follows:

Irving Faskowitz died.   It just so happened that an infamous Chicago Lawyer had a maiden name that was very strongly similar; however, she was not related.   Exhibiting the criterion of on its face and so obscene that the Florida Attorney General rose out of her slumber and filed an objection.conduct advocated by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and the Illinois Supreme Court and the conduct that they wish to foster, this lawyer filed documents claiming that she and a specific group of her relatations were heirs to the estate.    The claim was bogus

As Lawyers live by the proposition that a bad settlement is better than the best litigation, the case settled and the spurious claimants got 1/2 of the Estate.   Victims of the infamous Chicago lawyer heard about the Florida expedition and screamed to everyone who would listen ‘foul’

The protector of the virtue of Illinois lawyers the IARDC apparently have a special relationship with this lawyer could not be bothered to investigate, but gave its stamp of approval on the fraud.   Further action by the Florida Attorney General was unthinkable to Florida officials.   I guess they were too absorbed in annulling the Smith marriage and silencing the heirs of Helen Stone.

As the lawyer who filed the claim is an Illinois lawyer and was also believed to be culpable for the horrendous torture that Alice Gore was subjected to and to the quest for gold in her teeth the IARDC and the Illinois Supreme Court ratified their approval of the alleged theft and the complaining citizens were told to ‘stuff it!’

This is our current state of affairs in the cottage industry of elder cleansing.    Mr. Larkin is not a card carrying Nazi.   Indeed, he most probably has not even accidentally rubbed elbows with one.   Indeed, I would suspect that he is even loved by some children, but, he accepted a job to do – i.e. police the legal profession and rid it of the dishonest lawyers who prey on Illinois citizens – including the elderly.    Someone along the way Mr. Larkin got mixed up and decided to rid the legal profession of the lawyers who would pursuant to Rule 8.3 and 18 USCA 4 speak up against corruption in the Court system.   Indeed, he felt it his duty to defend and coverup 18 UsCA 371 the confession of Judge Connors (at page 91 of her evidence deposition) that she was ‘wired.’   The confession of perjury in the JoAnne Denison hearing by Judge Stuart.   The Faskowitz theft and the hunt for gold in the mouth of Alice by lawyer *****.    ******.

Elderly people are being elder cleansed, and then euthanized and corrupt courts, corrupt judges, corrupt lawyers, corrupt judicial officials and corrupt political figures are all actively engaged in the activity.   Our cause is just, but ignored.   Linking the cause to a great ***** Conspiracy is counter productive.   Judge **** sitting in Emmett County, Michigan is not involved in the Mary Sykes case directly, indirectly or in his dreams.   The WW2 Nazis who escaped from Germany in 1944/45 are all dead or nearly dead at this point in time.

Ladies – all we have in these elder cleansing cases is garden variety avarice and local conspiracies by a group of like thinking miscreants to enrich themselves by stealing from grandma.    Judge **** in Florida has no role in whatever Judge **** in Illinois is doing or not doing.   The attempt to link their actions just destroys our credibility.

Ken Ditkowsky

 The miscreant lawyer, who is reported to teach Legal Ethics is no co-operating in any Federal investigation of the Illinois corruption and therefore has the official approval of the Judicial Elite.    Guardianships continued to flow and members of the public continued to be fair game.    JoAnne Denison, who pursuant to Rule 8.3, 18 USCA 4, and her duty as a citizen of the United STates of America was rewarded with an INTERIM SUSPENSION or her law license, and a 3 year suspension of her Law License in every forum available.    (Every good deed is properly punished).
2018 is a new beginning!    Please accept my families best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous  NEW YEAR.

Merry Christmas to all the corruption victims out there

And Hannukuh blessings and all the other winter time holidays too!

My heart goes out to those of you who cannot see their loved ones this Christmas season because there is a court order, or a GAL order or some sort of other nonsense.

The holidays are for families, but for the families of Mary Sykes, Alice Gore, Rose Drabik, Lydia Tyler, Alan Frake and so many, many more, they were a horror show.  For years, many in probate are not even allowed to know where their loved ones are.  Helen Stone in Florida most assuredly will not see her daughter for Hannukah.  Please pray for them.  Please pray that the psychopaths in charge, the judges, the lawyers and court room vendors lose their hearts of stone for a heart of flesh and blood.

Too many to mention are suffering through the holidays.  Give them your kind thoughts and blessings.

Nursing homes are nothing but slums and ghettos for the elderly.  We have to do better by them.  Many younger disabled persons suffer greatly in these place too.  And they have done nothing wrong, but the conditions are far worse than a jail or prison, because for many of them, death is the only way out.

Please pray for a world of peace and love, joy and understanding, and most of all, compassion.

Holiday best wishes

Joanne

From GovCuff Group: reasons to NEVER talk to police

 

excellent video on all the reasons to never talk to a police officer.  there are plenty of reasons why your statements can be twisted and turned even if you are innocent.  just politely say no.  Blame your lawyer.  Blame youtube lawyers. Blame this blog.  But never talk to police.  It’s never a good idea.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen police reports where the police got just about everything wrong.  I wonder if they go back and write up reports after they have had a drink or two or a toke or two or three or more.  It’s always a bad idea.  And if you are talking to police for any reason, record, record, record.