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E-Newsletter of May 1, 2012 | Vol. 4, No. 68



Elder Law Section Members:

The EL Governing Council is requesting input from membership regarding the future of the current Medicaid State Plan Committee, and the possible creation of a Litigation Committee. 

The Medicaid State Plan Committee was formed in October 2010, in recognition of the need for a system to track and comment on proposed state plan amendments, and to develop a more collaborative relationship with the state.  DHS does not provide an electronic version of the state plan, and although the Section was able to secure a hard copy (more than 1600 pages), co-chair Stu Duering noted that “the relative obscurity in which [State Plan Amendments] are developed and approved seems to be a significant factor in the difficulty we face in obtaining and communicating them to the elder law community.”  Although the Committee has made significant progress, obtaining timely information and making it available online has remained problematic in terms of both the ongoing investment of time and section money.  Recently, however, William Mitchell College of Law library has undertaken to maintain a current copy of the State Plan for use by the public, so the initial purpose of the Committee has been largely accomplished.  There remains a need to facilitate access to state plan amendments, proposed amendments and waivers, and possibly a more in-depth review of the requirements for public accountability and notice in that process.  The State Plan Committee co-chairs, Stuart Duering and Tom O’Connell, together with Cathryn Reher and Pook Grathwol, deserve our gratitude for their persistent attempts to navigate an incomprehensible system.

During the same period, section members have increasingly recognized the need to become involved in litigation, both in administrative hearings and in challenges to state medical assistance policies in state and federal court.  Given this convergence, the Governing Council is requesting input to determine whether the State Plan Committee should adjust its mission to a broader charge, or merge into the establishment of a Litigation Committee, whose mission would be to provide support and resources for members who find their practice becoming more litigious.  Comments and suggestions may be forwarded to any Governing Council member, or specifically to Vicky McIntyre, chair, Strategic Planning Committee at

Submitted by Laura Zdychnec, Esq.


Item of Interest


A Book Report on Lone Wolf, by Jodi Picoult

Like all of Jodi Picoult’s novels, this book addresses a major moral and ethical issue in our society.  It involves a divorced man who is in coma after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a car accident.  His doctors say he will never recover.  His children, ages 17 and 24, have to decide whether to pull the plug and donate his organs or wait and hope for a miracle recovery.  The father had had one conversation with his son many years before about the issue and none with his daughter.  They both had to decide what he would want, and they disagreed.  They both petitioned the court to appoint them guardian of their father.

The father was an animal conservationist who had studied and even lived with wolves. Much of the book consists of flashbacks to help the reader understand the kind of person he was and all of the family relationships and history.  It is helpful to realize how the relationship the two children had with their father shapes their decisions on his care.  The sections on the social structure of a wolf pack and the father’s relationship to them are also interesting but were too long for me.  But I loved the family relationships and the court hearing, the witnesses’ testimony, and especially the judge’s comments.

Through the novel, Picoult really emphasizes how important it is to talk with your family about your beliefs and desires about medical care and end of life issues and to appoint an agent to make those decisions for you when you cannot.  It can inspire us as attorneys to encourage our clients – and ourselves - to plan ahead, have these discussions with their families and have appropriate documents.

Submitted by Catherine R. Thatcher, Esq.


Link of the Week


Volunteer Opportunity

Wills for Heroes is a volunteer program that provides first responders and their spouse/domestic partner with a volunteer attorney to assist in preparing wills and other estate planning documents at no charge. Attorneys who volunteer for the program may claim CLE credit. To learn more about the opportunity, click here.

Submitted by Megan K. Stowers

Elder Law News


State will share $30M from UCare with federal government | Star Tribune

Minnesota to return $15M in Medicaid cash to feds, but Grassley plans to continue probe | Star Tribune

Patient costs rise as insurers shift to Medicare rates | Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Educators, employers say health care at crossroads | The Bemidji Pioneer

Woman charged with elderly abuse denies barricading her mother-in-law in basement | Star Tribune

Inver Grove plans for older adults | Star Tribune

Nurses fired after faked insulin tests at Duluth nursing home | Star Tribune

Submitted by Joel Smith, Esq.

Elder Law Cases

There are no new Minnesota cases to report this week.

Elder Law Statutes, Regulations, and Bulletins

There are no new statutes, regulations or bulletins to report this week.

Upcoming Events and CLE Programs

What: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
When: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 from 8:00am – 5:00pm
Where: William Mitchell College of Law
Auditorium and Classrooms for Breakout Sessions
875 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55105
Cost: FREE!

Submitted by Suzy Scheller, Esq.
Elder Law Section Chair


The Hamline University School of Law Health Law Institute will be offering ELDER LAW in a compact format from June 16 to 21.  The course qualifies for 2 law school credits or 24 CLE credits.  To learn more, click here. 

The Health Law Institute is also offering four other courses in the same format in the same time-frame:

Health Reform: A New Age of Regulatory Enforcement (1cr)
Health Reform: Insurance Plans, Exchanges, and Mandates (1cr)
(Un)Healthy Choices: Tobacco, Obesity, and Beyond (2cr)
Health Care Compliance Summer Institute (3cr)

Submitted by Thaddeus Pope, J.D., Ph.D.
Director, Health Law Institute
Associate Professor of Law
Hamline University School of Law

Elder Law Section Activities


MA COMMITTEE MEETING: The next MA Committee meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2011. The Medical Assistance Committee is a study group to analyze Elder Law Section member questions and case studies and to discuss administrative policies and procedures in relation to Medical Assistance in Minnesota.  Cathryn D. Reher of Long, Reher & Hanson, P.A., is Committee Chair.  For directions, or to attend by phone, please contact Tracie Fenske with Long, Reher & Hanson, P.A., at 952-929-0622 at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Topics for the meeting may be submitted to under the subject heading “MA Committee Topic”, or faxed to 952-542-9201. Please be reminded that the meeting location is: Estate & Elder Law Services (formerly MAO Legal Services), Monroe Village, 1900 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55418. The meeting takes place in the building’s conference room. There are a few parking spaces behind the building and lots of street parking. People should walk to the back of the building and come to the back door which faces directly into the meeting room.

GOVERNING COUNCIL:  The next meeting of the Elder Law Section Governing Council will be on Friday, June 15, 2011. The Annual Meeting will begin at 3:30 pm, and the Governing Council meeting will follow. The meetings will be held at the offices of the Volunteers of America (VOA) at 1900 Central Avenue NE, Suite 106, Minneapolis, MN 55418.For further information, please contact Suzy Scheller, Chair, at:


Elder Law Website


DON'T FORGET THAT THE ELDER LAW WEBSITE IS A GREAT RESOURCE. Here’s what you can find on the Website:  Links to the DHS Health Care Programs Manual, the DHS Bulletin on treatment of uncompensated transfers, the Minnesota Bankers Association Compliance Bulletin on Powers of Attorney, legislative summary; Practice Links to organizations such as NAELA, ABA Commission on Law and Aging, Links to Federal and State Government Agencies, Statutes, and Regulations; Meeting Notices, Listings of Officers and Council Members, Section Bylaws, and more.


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