The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 7504. Authority of the Ombudsman and representatives of the Office
(a)(1) The Ombudsman, as head of the Office, shall have the responsibility for leadership and management of the Office in coordination with the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living and, as applicable, with any other agency carrying out the Ombudsman program.
(2) In addition to the functions set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 1324.13, the Ombudsman shall, personally or through representatives of the Office:
(A) analyze, comment on, and monitor the development and implementation of federal, State, and local laws, rules, regulations, and other governmental policies and actions pertaining to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of residents with respect to the adequacy of long-term care facilities and long-term care in the State;
(B) recommend any changes in such laws, rules, regulations, policies, and actions that the Office deems appropriate;
(C) facilitate public comment on the laws, rules, regulations, policies, and actions;
(D) provide leadership for the Office's statewide systemic advocacy efforts on behalf of residents, including coordinating systemic advocacy efforts implemented by representatives of the Office; and
(E) provide information to public and private agencies, the General Assembly, the media, and others regarding the problems and concerns of residents and the Ombudsman's recommendations regarding the problems and concerns.
(3) In addition to the functions set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 1324.13 and subdivision (2) of this subsection, the Ombudsman personally shall:
(A) establish or recommend policies, procedures, and standards for the Ombudsman program;
(B) require representatives of the Office to fulfill the duties set forth in 45 C.F.R. § 1324.19 in accordance with Ombudsman program policies and procedures;
(C) refuse, suspend, or remove the designation of a representative of the Office or a local Ombudsman entity, or both, whenever the Ombudsman determines that the representative's or entity's policies, procedures, or practices are in conflict with the laws, policies, or procedures governing the Ombudsman program;
(D) establish training procedures for certification and continuing education for representatives of the Office; and
(E) investigate allegations of misconduct by representatives of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in the performance of Ombudsman program functions, responsibilities, and duties.
(4) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the actions of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and representatives of the Office in carrying out the functions described in this subsection shall not be construed to constitute lobbying as defined in 2 V.S.A. § 261.
(b) In fulfilling the responsibilities of the Office, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and representatives of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman are authorized to:
(1) Hire or contract with persons or organizations to fulfill the purposes of this chapter.
(2) Communicate and visit with any individual receiving long-term care, provided that the Ombudsman or the representative of the Office shall obtain permission from the resident or the resident representative to enter the resident's home. Long-term care facilities shall provide the Ombudsman or the representative of the Office access to their facilities, and long-term care providers shall ensure the Ombudsman and representatives of the Office have access to the individuals for whom they provide long-term care, as well as the name of and contact information for the resident representative, if any, as needed to perform the Ombudsman's functions and responsibilities or the duties of the representatives of the Office.
(3) Have appropriate access to review the medical and social records of an individual receiving long-term care as required by 42 U.S.C. § 3058g(b), as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Privacy Rule, 45 C.F.R. Part 160 and 45 C.F.R. Part 164, subparts A and E, does not preclude release by covered entities of residents' private health information or other resident-identifying information to the Ombudsman program, including residents' medical, social, or other records, a list of resident names and room numbers, or information collected in the course of a State or federal survey or inspection process.
(4) Pursue administrative, judicial, or other remedies on behalf of individuals receiving long-term care, including access orders from a Superior judge when access under subdivision (2) or (3) of this section has been unreasonably denied and all other reasonable attempts to gain access have been pursued and have failed.
(5) Adopt rules necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and those of the Older Americans Act relating to the Ombudsman program.
(6) Take such further actions as are necessary in order to fulfill the purposes of this chapter. (Added 1989, No. 251 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2005, No. 56, § 3, eff. June 13, 2005; 2017, No. 23, § 1.)