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28 April 2015 / Sara M. Costanzo

Ohio Aims to Put Some Teeth in the Elder Abuse Protections - Am. H.B. No. 24 As Passed by the House

Topics: Elder Abuse

Three years ago, United States President Barack Obama declared by Official Proclamation, that June 15, 2012 is "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day". The purpose was to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of the elderly by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.1 

Prior to the proclamation, the Elder Justice Act2 was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It provides federal resources to "prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation". Many states have adopted legislation requiring anyone who suspects elder abuse to report it.  For example, in Ohio certain defined persons "having reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, or is in a condition which is the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall immediately report such belief to the county department of job and family services."3 

Improving upon this law, Ohio House Bill 24 recently passed by the House and is now headed to the Ohio Senate. If approved, this legislation would require bankers, notaries, financial advisers and others who have contact with the elderly to report possible financial scams they believe are being used on their elderly customers.  In return, if their concerns are later proven unfounded, these financial "first responders" would have increased legal protection against lawsuits.

The bill also aims to create a state commission to prevent senior abuse.

"The number of Ohioans 60 years or older will grow by 60 percent by 2020," said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine during a press conference at the Butler County prosecutor's office that included local Ohio Representative Wes Retherford (R-Hamilton), one of two lead-sponsors of HB 24.4

The bill also provides local police, fire, EMS, medical personnel and others local and state options to report suspected physical abuse or neglect of senior citizens.  HB 24 is designed to enable local and state officials to quickly investigate possible abuse and seek assistance from local judges to immediately order that money stop being withdrawn from accounts of seniors where theft is occurring.

Besides creating an Ohio Elder Abuse Commission, the bill would also enlist the help of Ohio's Department of Job and Family Services.  The Ohio AG's office also established a commission that handles such abuse complaints, and includes a hotline to report problems that will be investigated -- 1-800-282-0515.

Some noted changes to the Ohio Revised Code, contained in HB 24 are as follows.  
(B) (C) "Adult" means any person sixty years of age or older within this state who is handicapped by the infirmities of aging or who has a physical or mental impairment which prevents the person from providing for the person's own care or protection, and who resides in an independent living 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 Am. H. B. No. 24 Page 14 As Passed by the House arrangement. 

(H)(K) "Financial harm" means impairing an adult's financial assets by unlawfully obtaining or exerting control over the adult's real or personal property in any of the following ways: (1) Without the adult's consent or the person authorized to give consent on the adult's behalf; (2) Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the adult or the person authorized to give consent on the adult's behalf; (3) By deception; (4) By threat; (5) By intimidation.

Sec. 5101.71 5101.61. (A) The county departments of job and family services shall implement sections 5101.60 to 5101.71 of the Revised Code. 

5101.63. (A) (1) Any individual listed in division (A)(2) of this section having reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, or is in a condition which is the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall immediately report such belief to the county department of job and family services. This section does not apply to employees of any hospital or public hospital as defined in section 5122.01 of the Revised Code. 

(2) All of the following are subject to division (A)(1) of this section:


(a) An attorney admitted to the practice of law in this state; 
(b) An individual authorized under Chapter 4731. of the Revised Code to practice medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or podiatric medicine and surgery; 
(c) An individual licensed under Chapter 4734. of the Revised Code as a chiropractor; 
(d) An individual licensed under Chapter 4715. of the Revised Code as a dentist; 
(e) An individual licensed under Chapter 4723. of the Revised Code as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse
(f) An individual licensed under Chapter 4732. of the Revised Code as a psychologist; 
(g) An individual licensed under Chapter 4757. of the 647 648 649 650 651 652 653 654 655 656 657 658 659 660 661 662 663 664 665 666 667 668 669 670 671 672 673 674 Am. H. B. No. 24 Page 25 As Passed by the House Revised Code as a social worker, independent social worker, professional counselor, professional clinical counselor, marriage and family therapist, or independent marriage and family therapist; 
(h) An individual licensed under Chapter 4729. of the Revised Code as a pharmacist; 
(i) An individual holding a certificate to practice as a dialysis technician issued under Chapter 4723. of the Revised Code; 
(j) An employee of a home health agency, as defined in section 3701.881 of the Revised Code; 
(k) An employee of an outpatient health facility
(l) An employee of a hospital, as defined in section 3727.01 of the Revised Code; 
(m) An employee of a hospital or public hospital, as defined in section 5122.01 of the Revised Code; 
(n) An employee of a nursing  home or residential care facility, as defined in section 3721.01 of the Revised Code; 
(o) An employee of a residential facility licensed under section 5119.22 of the Revised Code that provides accommodations, supervision, and personal care services for three to sixteen unrelated adults; 
(p) An employee of a health department operated by the board of health of a city or general health district or the authority having the duties of a board of health under section 3709.05 of the Revised Code; 
(q) An employee of a community mental health agency, as 675 676 677 678 679 680 681 682 683 684 685 686 687 688 689 690 691 692 693 694 695 696 697 698 699 700 701 Am. H. B. No. 24 Page 26 As Passed by the House defined in section 5122.01 of the Revised Code; 
(r) An agent of a county humane society organized under section 1717.05 of the Revised Code; 
(s) An individual who is a firefighter for a lawfully constituted fire department; 
(t) An individual who is an ambulance driver for an emergency medical service organization, as defined in section 4765.01 of the Revised Code; 
(u) A first responder, emergency medical technician-basic, emergency medical technician-intermediate, or paramedic, as those terms are defined in section 4765.01 of the Revised Code; 
(v) An official employed by a local building department to conduct inspections of houses and other residential buildings; 
(w) A peace officer; 
(x) A coroner; 
(y) A member of the clergy; 
(z) An individual who holds a certificate issued under Chapter 4701. of the Revised Code as a certified public accountant or is registered under that chapter as a public accountant; 
(aa) An individual licensed under Chapter 4735. of the Revised Code as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson
(bb) An individual appointed and commissioned under section 147.01 of the Revised Code as a notary public
(cc) An employee of a bank, savings bank, savings and loan association, or credit unionorganized under the laws of this state, another state, or the United States; 702 703 704 705 706 707 708 709 710 711 712 713 714 715 716 717 718 719 720 721 722 723 724 725 726 727 728 Am. H. B. No. 24 Page 27 As Passed by the House 
(dd) An investment advisor, as defined in section 1707.01 of the Revised Code; 
(ee) A financial planner accredited by a national accreditation agency; 
(ff) Any other individual who is a senior service provider.



The above makes it rather clear, that ANYONE who has cause to belief abuse is being committed, is to report that belief for investigation.  HB 24 clarifies the reporting requirement, by providing:

(B) Any person having reasonable cause to believe that an adult has suffered abuse, neglect, or exploitation may report, or cause reports a report to be made of such belief to the county department of job and family services.

(C) The reports made under this section shall be made orally or in writing except that oral reports shall be followed by a written report if a written report is requested by the department. Written reports shall include:


(1) The name, address, and approximate age of the adult who is the subject of the report; 
(2) The name and address of the individual responsible for the adult's care, if any individual is, and if the individual is known; 
(3) The nature and extent of the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the adult; 
(4) The basis of the reporter's belief that the adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited.

To ensure compliance, HB 24 establishes the following:

Sec. 5101.99. (A) Whoever violates division (A) or (B) of section 5101.61 5101.63 of the Revised Code shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars. (B) Whoever violates division (A) of section 5101.27 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. (C) Whoever violates section 5101.133 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

Ohio Representative Retherford predicts the Ohio Senate will pass HB 24, which the Ohio House overwhelmingly approved, and expects the bill to become law by late June.  

 

1 http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/Elder_Rights/EA_Prevention/weaad.aspx
2 Pub.L.No. 111-148, at Title VI, Subtitle H, Section 6701 – 6703.
3 5101.65. The county department of job and family services shall be responsible for the investigation of all reports provided for in section 5101.61 5101.63 and all cases referred to it under section 5126.31 of the Revised Code and for evaluating the need for and, to the extent of available funds, providing or arranging for the provision of protective services. The department may designate another agency to perform the department's duties under this section. Investigation of the report provided for in section 5101.61 5101.63 or a case referred to the department under section 5126.31 of the Revised Code shall be initiated within twenty-four hours after the department receives the report or case if any emergency exists; otherwise investigation shall be initiated within three working days. Investigation of the need for protective services shall include a face-to-face visit with the adult who is the subject of the report, preferably in the adult's residence, and consultation with the person who made the report, if feasible, and agencies or persons who have information about the adult's 816 817 818 819 820 821 822 823 824 825 826 827 828 829 830 831 832 833 834 835 836 837 838 839 840 841 842 843 844 845 Am. H. B. No. 24 Page 31 As Passed by the House alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The department shall give written notice of the intent of the investigation and an explanation of the notice in language reasonably understandable to the adult who is the subject of the investigation, at the time of the initial interview with that person. Upon completion of the investigation, the department shall determine from its findings whether or not the adult who is the subject of the report is in need of protective services. No adult shall be determined to be abused, neglected, or in need of protective services for the sole reason that, in lieu of medical treatment, the adult relies on or is being furnished spiritual treatment through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination of which the adult is a member or adherent. The department shall write a report which confirms or denies the need for protective services and states why it reached this conclusion.

4 http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/04/02/elder-abuse-reforms/70820832/

 

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