Protecting The Good Life for Nebraska’s Seniors


Attorney General Hilgers

By Attorney General Hilgers

Nebraska is blessed by its people, and especially by our seniors. These include our moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas who have poured time into building their families and communities here at home. Their experience and insight enrich our lives, and they are the human ties that help bind the next generation here to Nebraska. They deserve to enjoy the good life that they helped to build and maintain.

But too often, bad actors target seniors in an effort to exploit any vulnerability that may come with the challenges of advancing age. In a previous column, I highlighted some of the good work our Consumer Protection Division is doing to fight for senior citizens, specifically helping them against scams and cybercrimes. Today I would like to focus on what our office does to combat another type of threat—Medicaid fraud and the abuse, neglect, and exploitation against seniors. 

Abuse, neglect, and exploitation can happen anywhere. One particular focus of our office is neglect and abuse in medical facilities, such as doctor’s offices. Our Health and Licensing Bureau prosecutes allegations of licensed medical professionals who mistreat our seniors in nursing homes or in medical facilities. We also help revoke licenses of bad actors or refer for criminal prosecution those who break the law. Our Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Unit also investigates these allegations and brings criminal or civil charges against the perpetrators.

One specific area of focus for our team is cases of abuse or neglect when an individual in a nursing home is not receiving the level of care they are entitled to. There is a shortage of nursing home facilities in Nebraska. We are grateful for the conscientious professionals who care for seniors across our state. But, unfortunately, not all do the right thing, and our office works to ensure that nursing facilities and their staff are not cutting corners on the resident care that our seniors deserve.

Just this session, the Legislature strengthened our office’s ability to fight patient abuse when it passed LB664, which Governor Pillen signed into law. This law broadens our office’s ability to investigate and prosecute those who abuse, neglect, or exploit seniors. Previously, our team was limited to investigations into facilities that received Medicaid funding. Now, under LB664, we can investigate outside of those facilities. This is particularly an issue for receiving in-home care. I am grateful for the bill’s sponsor, Senator Merv Riepe, as well as the Legislature and Governor Pillen for enacting this important bill.

Another area of concern is Medicaid fraud relating to medical equipment. Seniors on Medicaid may be unintentionally signed up to receive equipment such as braces, oxygen tubing, or other medical supplies they do not need. When these supplies arrive at their home each month, Medicaid is billed, and taxpayer money goes to a fraudster. 

To avoid such scams, it is critical that Medicaid recipients are careful about giving out their Medicaid numbers. Even something as harmless as attending an event in your facility’s community center and giving your Medicaid number to someone you don’t know and trust could result in one of these schemes.

The advancement of years should come with the honor earned not only from accomplishments, but wisdom gained from a life well-lived. These are just some of the ways our office fights for seniors. It is my commitment and the commitment of our team to protect the good life for all Nebraskans, and especially those who have given so much to make our state what it is today.