Legislation, regulation, and reform, oh my!
"When I discovered how easily my own grandmother could be exploited, I knew it was time to get involved."
— Jamie Callahan
Team Senior is proud to report that we initiated the dialogue with the State of Oregon regarding the regulation of senior placement agencies in April of 2016. We have met exhaustively with many legislators, many times, in addition to the sponsors for our bill, Representatives Alissa Keny-Guyer and Representative Mark Meek over the last year. Fred Steele, the director for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the Attorney General’s office, DHS, OSRAA, AARP, Alzheimer's Association, O4AD, Leading Age, SEIU, and many other stakeholders have also been intimately involved in these discussions - all of which support this legislation and have helped to develop it.
House Bill 2661 has passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee with an approval of 8 to 1. As of today, June 6, 2017, we are stuck in the Ways and Means Committee waiting for the state to decide if they will fund the fiscal ask to get this off the ground. Going forward, those of us with actual businesses (many of which are already members of the Oregon State Referral Agency Association) have agreed to a bi-annual registration fee (per company) of $750 to assist the state with the expense of registering and monitoring Senior Referral Businesses. We feel very strongly that this is our chance to legitimize the amazing service that we offer, while implementing required standards in the interest of protecting vulnerable adults.
Ultimately, we would like to see referral businesses regulated and held to measurable standards across the board – including the enforcement of the Federal Anti-Kick-Back Law that prohibits referral agencies from referring Medicaid residents for any kind of kickback, compensation or donation. Because of what we do, we can easily see the way in which seniors and their representatives are often being exploited (selling names, when no service is provided). Due to the fact that there is currently NO regulation or state wide registration required in Oregon, our vulnerable senior population is at high risk. Decisions, especially during times of crisis are being made without proper education or direction, and many times this comes with the assistance of someone that cannot adequately inform you when they have never met you or seen the facilities that they are referring you to. Example: If you were buying a house in Oregon, would you call a realtor in Texas that can only tell you what they have read about online, or what the current owners want you to know – or would you call a local agent that has physically seen the property and will also tour the property with you? Seems like a no-brainer. Now consider a person’s health care needs, social needs, and budget before spend-down to Medicaid… and you have to ask yourself if this is really OK? Is this what you would want for your mother or grandmother?
Team Senior has also been traveling to other states, assisting with the development of a national organization called Families Have Choices Coalition. This is an extremely important initiative when you consider the 'ownership' of names piece that prevents folks from being able to choose who they work with. Imagine calling a service provider that you would prefer to work with and hearing, 'oh, sorry, you are owned by another company and they will own you for years, so I am not going to help you because they have prevented me from being able to get paid'. THIS IS HAPPENING ALL AROUND YOU, EVERY DAY!
There are a number of referral agencies in the Portland area that we meet with on a regular basis to discuss advocacy and licensing, many of which are a member of the Oregon Senior Referral Agency Association. Please feel free to inquire about those meetings or join the association by contacting them directly at http://osraa.com/.