Senate Budget Includes “Liberty Mutual” Provision
Many people were outraged by recent stories revealing that retiring Liberty Mutual CEO Ted Kelly was paid $200 million in the past 4 years, while policy holders got rate increases and taxpayers gave Liberty Mutual $46 million in tax breaks. Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville was surprised, since mutual companies are owned by their policy holders, and are chartered to share both risk and profit with those policy holders.
Jehlen worked with Senators Brian Joyce and Mark Montigny to pass a budget amendment to make mutual companies follow the same rules on transparency, accountability and conflict-free boards as publicly traded corporations. It would require that mutual insurance companies make public the pay of their top executives, that their compensation committees are free of conflict of interest and their boards have a majority of directors without such conflict, and that the owners of mutual holding companies hold a non-binding vote on executive pay every three years.
Jehlen said, “I found it amazing that Kelly was paid more in an hour and a quarter than the security officers in his building make in a year, and more than all the presidents of the United States combined. I hope this sensible and moderate consumer and taxpayer protection provision is adopted in the final budget. Just the publicity about executive pay may lead to more responsible behavior,” she said.
Senate Passes Bill Creating Standards for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Units in Nursing Homes
Last Tuesday the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would create minimum care standards to govern Alzheimer’s and Dementia Units in nursing homes. The bill, co-sponsored by Senator Patricia Jehlen, requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to work together with the Alzheimer’s Association and the nursing home industry to develop minimum standards for care and training. Currently, assisted living facilities that offer dementia care have a set of standards but nursing homes do not.
“Appropriate care and a well-trained staff can allow people with dementia to live without the anxiety and/or over medication that is the fate of too many and give them a chance to have a creative and enjoyable experience,” said Sen. Jehlen. “I think it is really important for people to have confidence that their relatives or people they care about are getting this appropriate level of care.”
Currently, any long term care facility can advertise its “special care unit” for residents with dementia and not be subject to any particular regulation regarding standards of programming, facility design or staff training. Once the minimum standards are in place, family members and others, in their stressful search for an appropriate placement for their loved one, would have more assurance that a “special care dementia unit” would meet the particular criteria defined in the regulations established and DPH would have the authority to enforce them.
The Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, which is co-chaired by Sen. Jehlen and which recommended that the bill be passed, heard from many people about how this bill would improve the lives of those living with dementia and the lives of those caring for a loved one with dementia. People testified about the about the high level of anxiety produced, not only in searching for a high quality special care unit, but in also being assured that quality of care in those units is maintained and consistent from site to site. Family members told the committee that their relative would be doing well in a unit until a new company bought the nursing home and, because there were no minimum standards or regulation in place, the programming would change for the worse.
The bill has already passed the House of Representatives.
Senate Unanimously Expands Anti-Freeze Bittering Agent Requirement
On Tuesday, June 12, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would require anti-freeze and engine coolant wholesalers to add a bittering agent to drums of the lethal liquids, announced Senator Patricia Jehlen. The bittering agent is designed to stop pets and other animals from drinking anti-freeze and engine coolant. Animals can die within hours of consuming the dangerous substances.
This bill comes on the heels of a law passed two years ago requiring the bittering agent to be added to one and five gallon containers of anti-freeze and engine coolant. That bill was originally sponsored by Senator Jehlen.
“This bill expands our previous requirement that small containers of anti-freeze and engine coolant contain bittering agents because many people getting their cars serviced at garages end up receiving untreated anti-freeze,” said Sen. Jehlen. “When this leaks in driveways or on the street, animals are attracted to the sweet tasting liquid. More than 90,000 animals die each year from drinking anti-freeze or engine coolant.”
Most anti-freeze contains ethylene glycol. Even in small amounts, this chemical is highly toxic and can produce life threatening kidney damage in animals and humans. Even when 50% diluted, a table spoon can kill 10 pound cat and as few as 4 ounces can kill a 20 pound dog.
- Information from State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville, Medford)