On March 30, 2016, the US Department of Justice announced that health care providers who serve the elderly in the following 10 states will have task forces looking over their shoulders: California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. Known as the elder justice task forces, these partnerships combine the resources of “federal, state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and agencies that provide services to the elderly,” with an eye toward “coordinat[ing] and enhanc[ing] efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.” The DOJ said the task forces “reflect the department’s larger strategy and commitment to protecting our nation’s seniors, spearheaded by the department’s Elder Justice Initiative. Although the task forces will focus on nursing home violations, this is likely to be just the beginning of their battle against providers who commit health care fraud while serving the elderly.
In an article for Law360, Squire Patton Boggs lawyers Thomas E. Zeno and James Hafner examined who comprise task forces and their breadth of enforcement. The authors conclude that “given its combined resources and the reach of its members, the task forces’ efforts are an important illustration of why providers of services to the elderly should take care to ensure they are in strict compliance with federal and state law.”