Wellness briefly

Reporting of abuse of vulnerable mandated

BISMARCK – North Dakota law now requires all medical and mental health professionals or personnel who provide healthcare or other services to report possible abuse, neglect and exploitation of a vulnerable adult to the N.D. Department of Human Services’ Adult Protective Services Program or other partner agencies.

The 2013 N.D. Legislature passed Senate Bill 2323, which requires more than 20 different medical or mental health professionals to report possible abuse, neglect and exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Professionals and individuals mandated to report include addiction counselors, caregivers, chiropractors, congregate care personnel, dentists, dental hygienists, emergency medical personnel, firefighters, hospital personnel, law enforcement officers, nurses, nursing home personnel, optometrists, pharmacists, physicians, podiatrists, social workers, therapists and other individuals.

Mandated reporters will follow specific guidelines on how to file a report either with Adult Protective Services, the N.D. Department of Health, N.D. Protection and Advocacy Project, a domestic violence center or law enforcement. A complete list of mandated reporters and other information is online at (nd.gov/dhs).

Once a report is received by Adult Protective Services, a staff member contacts the potential victim, asks screening questions over the phone to determine if they are in serious danger and in need of immediate intervention, conducts a home visit and makes a referral to services if needed.

“Anyone in North Dakota may voluntarily report suspected abuse, neglect and exploitation of a vulnerable adult,” said Jan Engan, the department’s Aging Services Division director. “The addition of the mandated reporters will be another way to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults in North Dakota.”

For information on Adult Protective Services, contact the N.D. Department of Human Services’ Aging Services Division at 328-4601, toll-free at 800-462-5465 or ND Relay TTY 800-366-6888.

– Jill Hambek

Medicare highlights savings for seniors

Medicare beneficiaries in North Dakota have saved more than $16.8 million on prescription drugs with the Affordable Care Act’s gradual closing of the “donut hole” coverage gap, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Nationally, the savings average $1,061 per beneficiary.

The so-called donut hole is a coverage gap that exists once a beneficiary and the plan have spent $2,800. At this point, the beneficiary pays full cost for drugs until reaching the yearly out-of-pocket limit of $4,550.

Under the new law, people with Medicare in the donut hole now receive discounts and some coverage. The Affordable Care Act gave those who reached the donut hole in 2010 a one-time $250 check, then began phasing in discounts and coverage for drugs beginning in 2011. The law will provide additional savings each year until the coverage gap is closed in 2020.

The Affordable Care Act also eliminated coinsurance and the Part B deductible for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings. The government reported 38,320 people with traditional Medicare in North Dakota took advantage of at least one free preventive service in the first six months of 2013.

From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, more slowly than the average rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index, and substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy.