While Medicaid recipients may have to sign over resources, in some circumstances, to the long-term care facilities where they reside, this does NOT apply to current federal economic impact payments, or ‘stimulus checks.’
Under the CARES Act, the stimulus checks are a tax credit. Tax credits do not count as income or resources for federal benefits programs, like Medicaid. Nursing homes, assisted living residences, and residential care homes cannot take that money from residents just because they are on Medicaid. Simply receiving a stimulus check should not change a resident’s monthly payment or cause a resident to have “too much” savings for Medicaid eligibility. Recipients may keep the stimulus payments, and nursing homes or other long-term care facilities may not seize them.
Anyone who believes a long-term care resident who receives Medicaid has lost their stimulus check to a nursing home, assisted living residence, or residential care home, should contact the Vermont Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact the Vermont Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project at (802) 863-5620 (Voice & TTY). Vermonters may also report to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.
Here is more information on the rules relating to long-term care residents’ receipt of stimulus checks.
I can’t tell you how sad the topic of elder abuse and neglect makes me. Since I was a young girl, I loved the elders in my life and maintained such deep respect for them and their life experience. Unfortunately, “each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited” (ACL.gov).
Abuse is not just physical, it can be emotional and psychological, or include financial exploitation. Neglect is of grave concern, too, because in cases of neglect elders are not getting the care they need and deserve. Abusers can knowingly or unknowingly engage in such acts and may even demonstrate that they have good intentions. Abuse and neglect, no matter how it is posed, is unacceptable.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation recommendations continue for those most susceptible to experience severe illness caused by the disease, including those 65 years of age and older and those with severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes (CDC). Before the pandemic, social isolation was already a concern and an issue reported to our office’s Elder Protection Initiative. Now, while those most susceptible to illness remain in isolation, abuse and neglect can continue to occur for a longer period before it is seen by a bystander and reported. Each of us must commit to protecting older adults.
Emotional and Behavioral: unusual changes in behavior, or sleep, fear or anxiety, isolated or not responsive, sadness
Physical: broken bones, bruises, and welts, cuts, sores, or burns, missing daily living aids, such as walker and hearing aids, torn or bloody underclothing, STDs without clear explanation, poor living conditions
Financial: unusual changes in bank account or money arrangement, unusual or quick changes in will or other financial documents, fake signatures on financial documents, unpaid bills
Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On this day, let’s commit to reporting elder abuse and neglect and financial exploitation when we see it. As good neighbors and compassionate people, we must report whenever we see signs of abuse and neglect. We may be the only one who sees it and the only one who can report it.
As a reporter, you are not alone, there are many agencies and organizations that are essential to eliminating elder abuse. To simplify the reporting process, the following is a list of resources.
Suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, including financial exploitation
If you are still not sure who to contact, call United Ways of Vermont 2-1-1 information and referral hotline (dial 211 or 802-652-4636). They are a great resource, connecting Vermonters to organizations and agencies.
As a result of the COVID-19 emergency, countless Vermonters have dealt with the cancellation of travel plans and other event reservations. Although disappointing, these cancellations are helping keep the public safe and slow the spread of the virus. To assist Vermont consumers and businesses in understanding their rights and responsibilities related to these canceled plans, the Attorney General’s Office offers the following guidance:
Step 1: Look at the contract or agreement
To determine whether a business must refund a consumer’s payment, read any cancellation policies or other similar terms in any contracts or agreements that were in place at the time of payment.
Step 2: Locate cancellation policies
If a properly disclosed cancellation policy states that some or all of a consumer’s payment may be non-refundable, consumers’ options may be limited.
If a cancellation policy is not properly disclosed – for example, because it was given to the consumer only after the contract or agreement was signed – then the cancellation policy may not be valid.
Step 3: If necessary, the Consumer Assistance Program is available to mediate
If a cancellation policy says that a consumer is entitled to a refund in the event of an involuntary cancellation but the business refuses to provide a refund, the consumer may file a complaint with the Consumer Assistance Program by calling 1-800-649-2424 or visiting https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/.
If there are no contract terms or other policies that apply to cancellations under circumstances like these, the Attorney General’s Office urges businesses to work with consumers to find acceptable solutions. While it may be reasonable for a business to keep some portion of its fees to cover costs that were actually incurred before cancellation, businesses should work with consumers to come to a satisfactory resolution for both parties.
Like individual consumers, businesses also may have protections when they are in the role of consumers. For example, a business is a consumer when they are purchasing items that are not for resale, such as supplies or equipment for use by their business. If you own a business and have a consumer-type problem, you can also contact the Consumer Assistance Program to file a complaint.
The Attorney General’s Office recognizes that Vermonters are facing unprecedented hardships at this time, and encourages business owners and consumers to work together to find reasonable resolutions of their disputes. If any consumer feels a business is not living up to the terms of their agreement or is otherwise not playing fair, they should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program to file a complaint by calling 1-800-649-2424 or visiting https://ago.vermont.gov/cap/.