The U.S. Department of Justice [“Department”] has created multiple Elder Justice Task Forces to target health care providers who commit crimes while serving the elderly. With a goal of joint investigations to allow for quicker enforcement actions and prosecutions, the Task Forces combine federal, state, and local resources from law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state adult protective services agencies, long-term care ombudsman programs, U.S. attorneys’ offices, state Medicaid fraud control units, and state and local prosecutors’ offices.
Chiefly, the units will focus on “coordinat[ing] and enhanc[ing] efforts to pursue nursing homes that provide grossly substandard care to their residents.” However, in addition to pursuing federal criminal charges for health care fraud, these Task Forces also are authorized to enforce False Claims Act violations, HIPAA violations, and state criminal laws. Corporations found to have violated the law can expect steep fines, especially if they are repeat offenders, as well as other penalties, including possible debarment from federal programs like Medicare. In addition, individuals caught committing crimes risk imprisonment and being fined, too.
This announcement reflects the Department’s promise via its Elder Justice Initiative that all providers of services to the elderly will face increased scrutiny of their work. Particularly, this should be expected first in the jurisdictions designated for the initial ten Task Forces: the Northern Districts of California, Georgia, and Iowa; Districts of Kansas and Maryland; Western Districts of Kentucky and Washington; Southern District of Ohio; Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and Middle District of Tennessee.