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Real People Real Problems: An Evaluation of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs of the Older Americans Act
On policies developed by the state agency:
(iii) The state agency shall develop the policies and procedures in accordance with all provisions of this subtitle regarding confidentiality and conflict of interest (§712(a)(5)(D)(iii))
On assuring that the Ombudsman be allowed to operate free from interference:
(j) The State shall (1) ensure that willful interference with representatives of the Office in the performance of the official duties of the representatives (as defined by the Commissioner) (sic) shall be unlawful. (§712(j)(1))
On providing legal counsel for the Office of the State LTC Ombudsman program:
(g) The state agency shall ensure that adequate legal counsel is available without conflict of interest. (§712(g)(1)(A)
On promulgating regulations for the Office of the State LTC Ombudsman program:
(§713) The Assistant Secretary for Aging shall issue and periodically update regulations pertaining to conflicts of interest listed in §712(f). (§713)
Definitions and Conceptual Variations
Professionals of many disciplines encounter situations that create conflicts of interest. Issues pertaining to conflict of interest have traditionally been discussed in the context of a set of norms applicable to a given profession; such norms may be set forth in laws or adopted as professional norms (Rodwin, 1989; AAHC, 1990; AAMC; 1990; IOM, 1991b). Despite extensive provisions in the OAA referring to numerous aspects of conflict of interest in the ombudsman program, the act, its regulations, and AoA, to date, do not provide an adequate working definition of conflict of interest. Moreover, the issue of conflict of interest in the ombudsman program remains a very difficult one when the realities of program operation are addressed. The several references in the legislation to conflict of interest support an interpretation that conflict of interest situations pertinent to the LTC ombudsman program are likely to occur in situations other than those specifically precluded in the statute. Other professions provide examples of operating norms. Conceptual variations for the LTC ombudsman program can also be articulated.