LeadingAge California's Jeannee Parker Martin

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Vegan meals may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but a proposed law would require healthcare facilities to make them available.

SB-1138, sponsored by Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), passed in the state Legislature in late August, but it was unclear if Gov. Jerry Brown (D) would sign the measure at production deadline.

Under the law, skilled nursing facilities and other healthcare entities, as well as prisons, would be required to make available “wholesome, plant-based meals of such variety as to meet the needs of patients in accordance with their physician orders.” That means the meals contain no animal products or byproducts, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy or eggs.

Jeannee Parker Martin, president and CEO of LeadingAge California, said the organization has not taken a position on the law. But some research has shown that beef consumption can up the risk of cancer or Alzheimer’s.

“Since individuals are going to the hospital or nursing home to, generally, improve their health status, it makes sense that food served promotes such improvement,” she told McKnight’


Resident photos preserved

WISCONSIN — Mazomanie volunteers are helping recover and preserve photos owned by a nursing home resident and World War II veteran after a flood encouraged them.

Chuck Skooglun was stationed in Hawaii for two years in WWII and practiced photography as a hobby, station NBC15 reported. The 100-year-old, who lives in a nearby nursing home, stored his mementos in a garage on the property of Michael and Janice Lawler.

After a recent massive flood, the Lawlers discovered the photos and began to rescue what they could. High school students were also helping by taking photos so that Skooglun will have digital copies.

Skooglun told the station the photos bring back memories, especially of the rain in Hawaii.

Resident wins right to sue

ILLINOIS — A U.S. Court of Appeals has said a Glen Saint Andrew Living Community resident can move forward with her LGBT-based bullying lawsuit.

Marsha Wetzel moved into the Niles, IL, community in 2016. Fellow residents who learned she was gay spouted homophobic slurs and physically attacked her, she said in a 2016 lawsuit.

A court dismissed the case in 2017, but Lambda Legal appealed. In late August, a three-judge panel sided with Wetzel, deeming that landlords can be held accountable for failing to respond to discrimination against residents who are part of a protected class. The decision means the case may proceed to District Court.

“What happened to Marsha was illegal and unconscionable, and the court has now put all landlords on notice that they have an obligation to take action to stop known harassment,” Karen Loewy, Lambda Legal senior counsel and seniors strategist, said in a statement.

Glen Saint Andrew has denied those claims, and said that the community plans to “present its case in court at the appropriate time.”


Medicaid head announced

KENTUCKY — Carol H. Steckel, who led WellCare Health Plans’ Medicaid development policy for five years, is the state’s new Medicaid commissioner.

Steckel also has served as Director of Healthcare Innovation in Louisiana. Hunter will focus on redesigning home- and community-based services waiver programs,  Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Adam Meier said in early September.

Skin care settlement

FLORIDA — A Tampa dermatology practice that consults to nursing homes will pay $4 million to settle allegations that it overused radiation simulations and upcoded claims for the procedures.

Dermatology Healthcare allegedly submitted millions of dollars in false claims to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer using superficial radiation therapy. Between January 2011 and December 2016, the practice failed to supervise the administration of such radiation therapy, upcoded claims for the treatments, and overutilized radiation simulations, the Department of Justice said.


Insurance lapse pursued

MASSACHUSETTS  — The state attorney general is investigating why a nursing home chain let health insurance lapse for its employees.

Synergy Health Centers deducted health insurance premiums from its employees’ paychecks but failed to pay the insurer for its 10 nursing homes, the Boston Globe reported in early September.

Failing to pay premiums after deducting funds from paychecks for health insurance violates Massachusetts wage laws, said a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.