Governor’s Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup Issues Recommendations

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Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) was named by Governor Dayton as one of five members of the Elder Abuse Consumer Workgroup, a body he appointed in late November to offer recommendations (by January 26th, 2018) on how to address the egregious problems surfaced by a Star Tribune expose on elder abuse (see "Left to Suffer"). The Governor asked AARP to chair the group, which also consisted of the Alzheimer's Association - Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter, Elder Voice Family Advocates, and Elder Justice Center. 

Supervising attorneys Genevieve Gaboriault and Ron Elwood represented MMLA in the Consumer Workgroup and contributed to the report submitted to the Governor. The report's recommendations are aimed at improving the system of care, services, and protections for older and vulnerable adults, and are grouped into four areas:

  • Strengthening and expanding rights of older and vulnerable adults and their families
  • Enhancement of criminal and civil enforcement of rights
  • Development of a new licensure framework for assisted living and dementia care
  • Improving Department of Health licensing regulation, Office of Health Facilities Complaints enforcement and investigative process, and Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center reporting protocols.

On the conclusion of the group's work, Elwood noted, "The Workgroup is proud of the report and recommendations it has developed in a inordinately short period of time, and hopes the legislature will adopt as many of the recommendations as possible.  The situation is grim, and, as the group concludes, 'immediate and dramatic fixes' are necessary."

Read the full report is available here.  

LSAP AND OTHER CONSUMER GROUPS OPPOSE PROPOSED ELECTRIC RATE HIKES ON RANGE

The Legislature enacted a law this year to help iron ore mines, steel mills, paper mills and other large energy users become more globally competitive by giving them a chance to lower or better predict their electricity bills.  The law gave certain utilities the right to petition the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to change the rate structures for these customers if they could show "a net benefit."  Minnesota Power (MP), a Duluth-based utility serving the Iron Range, filed with the PUC to lower the rates for these industrial customers, which would result in a rate hike of 14.5% for residential customers  – including low-income and senior Minnesotans. 

The Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), AARP, Energy CENTS Coalition, the Attorney General and the Department of Commerce, and other consumer groups, filed briefs claiming that MP has failed to meet its burden to show net benefit, and that the proposed increase was not just and reasonable, and would exacerbate the financial hardship being felt by consumers on the Range. 

"The issue is why does it have to be, "You win, and I lose?" Ron Elwood, supervising attorney for LSAP, said in an interview.  "Why can't we figure out a way to minimize the impact?"  Read the full Star Tribune story.