Friday, January 13, 2012
OOIE partners with other advocates, expands legislative advocacy
Weighs in on POLST, Older American’s Act
In expanding its work to protect and enhance the rights of residents in facilities that provide long-term care, the Ombudsman’s Office has been building partnerships with other state agencies and fellow advocacy organizations and conducting legislative advocacy on the state and federal levels.
Over the past year, the Ombudsman has met representatives of a number of divisions within the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Human Services. The Ombudsman has also met with leaders at AARP New Jersey, Disability Rights New Jersey, ARC of NJ, Legal Services of New Jersey, the Organization of Residents Associations of New Jersey, the NJ Foundation for Aging and many other important non-governmental organizations. Through these discussions, the Ombudsman has identified areas on which to focus its policy efforts and ways to partner with other advocates to create a more effective system to advocate on behalf of residents.
Below are three pieces of legislation that the Ombudsman’s Office has been monitoring.
The Older Americans Act (OAA), which is the federal law that governs this office, is funded through September 2012 but expired last year. In addition to reauthorizing the bill, there are proposals to extend the work of the Ombudsman beyond institutional settings into homes so that the increasing number of individuals who are receiving home-based services will have an advocate.
In New Jersey, we supported Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (S-2198), which was recently signed into law by Governor Christie. This law allows patients, through their doctors, to document their goals and desires regarding life-sustaining treatment in a doctor’s order that, unless the patient directs otherwise, must be followed in all settings.
Another state bill, A-4098, seeks to create a non-judicial surrogate decision-making process for medical treatments for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities and create a pilot project to transfer incapacitated individuals who have no one to speak on their behalf from hospitals to nursing homes. While the Ombudsman’s Office appreciates the important issues that this bill seeks to address, we have concerns with how it is currently written. We look forward to working with the sponsors of this bill.
For more information, contact staff attorney Elizabeth Speidel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609.826.5025.