Attorney General Frosh Applauds Passage of 2019 Legislative Agenda; Praises General Assembly for Enactment of AG Priorities
General Assembly Passes Legislation to Help Prevent Nursing Home Patient Dumping; Require Student Loan Servicers to Deal Honestly with Borrowers
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh applauded members of the General Assembly for passage of legislation that will help prevent the practice of patient dumping at nursing homes, requiring nursing homes to comply with specific discharge policies and procedures. Additionally, Attorney General Frosh successfully lobbied for new guidelines for student loan servicers that protect student borrowers and prevent servicers from engaging in practices that harm borrowers.
Office of Attorney General Priority Legislation Passed During the 2019 Legislative Session:
- Nursing Home Discharge Bill: In the wake of the NMS nursing home scandal, where vulnerable patients were dumped at homeless shelters and unlicensed assisted living facilities, the Office of Attorney General pushed to strengthen the Nursing Home Patient’s Bill of Rights. The new law prevents the most pernicious forms of resident dumping by requiring nursing homes to discharge residents to another licensed provider unless, (1) the resident is being discharged because his or her health has improved sufficiently so that the resident no longer needs the services provided by the facility; (2) the resident is ineligible for Medicaid and has refused pay; (3) the resident is Medicaid-eligible but has absolutely refused both to apply for Medicaid long term care benefits and to pay. The bill codifies due process rights for residents that nursing homes are attempting to evict and requires the implementation and sharing of discharge plans with residents or their agents. In addition to existing provisions authorizing a request for injunctive relief, the bill authorizes the Office of Attorney General to ask for penalties not to exceed $100,000 for each violation.
- Student Loan Servicer Prohibitions: Servicers can no longer mislead borrowers in connection with servicing loans and are required to apply payments in accordance with borrower instructions by mandating that servicers comply with consumer protection safeguards and not commit certain prohibited conduct that is not clearly covered under existing law. For instance, student loan servicers are barred from misrepresenting information or omitting material information about a student loan and applying student loan payments in a manner that is detrimental to the borrower. Servicers will now also be required to promptly respond to written complaints and inquiries from a student borrower.
As chair of the Maryland Sexual Assault Evidence Kit Policy and Funding Committee, Attorney General Frosh also successfully worked for passage this session of legislation mandating virtually all rape kits are tested, creating uniformity across all jurisdictions and ensuring that victims are created equally and have more access to justice.
Since taking office five years ago, Attorney General Frosh has proposed and lobbied for the successful passage of legislation protecting victims of crime, the health of Marylanders and our environment, and the threat of potentially harmful federal actions.
- Structured Settlement Reform – This law created important new safeguards for injured Marylanders who face possible exploitation when offered immediate cash in exchange for a stream of payments obtained through the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. The legislation was aimed at the industry targeting the vulnerable populations that hold these payments, such as young Baltimore residents who have been plaintiffs in lead-paint poisoning lawsuits
- Statewide Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Tracking System – Expanded the mission of the Committee, allowing the committee to make recommendations regarding the creation and operation of a statewide sexual assault evidence collection tracking system. Required the Committee to submit an application for a U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) to fund the development of a statewide SAEK tracking system, the testing of Maryland’s “backlogged” kits, and other services designed to enhance the prosecution of sexual assaults and assistance provided to survivors.
- Maryland False Claims Act – The law allows whistleblowers with knowledge of fraud committed against state and local governments to come forward with their information and receive a reward, if the government recoups money as a result.
- Controlled Dangerous Substances – Distributors – Reporting Suspicious Orders – Introduced at the request of the Attorney General, the law provides an important tool to law enforcement and public health officials to address the opioid crisis. Requires drug distributors – the businesses responsible for shipping these drugs from factories to pharmacies – to report suspicious orders for controlled dangerous substances to the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Health.
- Maryland Defense Act – The law enabled the Maryland Attorney General to sue the federal government for illegal or unconstitutional actions.