New law regulates PERS

Kentucky Talley Act legislation could be national model
Monday, December 1, 2008

FRANKFORT, Ky.--A law that went into effect here on July 15 is designed to set up clear guidelines for contact protocol when an end user activates a personal emergency response system (PERS). Proponents of the law say it will help Kentuckians get the appropriate emergency aid they need in a timely manner. Senate Bill 57, or the Christine Talley Act, regulates PERS providers by allowing their customers to specify that 911 be the first call the monitoring station makes when a PERS device is activated. A civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per violation could be assessed against providers who knowingly violate the new law.

Signed by Gov. Steve Beshear on April 14, 2008, Senate Bill 57 was introduced by Sen. Tom Buford (R) on January 8, 2008. Sen. Buford said that the Christine Talley Act was an important piece of legislation. “There were really no guidelines. [PERS providers] are selling these products interstate, in our state, internationally, and there were no guidelines for a protocol, no guidelines for who is responsible if something doesn’t happen.”

A statement from the office of the Kentucky Attorney General explained, “contracts after 2008 must include certain provisions, and PERS providers must notify customers with contracts existing before January 1, 2009, that they have the option to change their call list.” The mandatory PERS service contract provisions are that the customer must be allowed to: designate 911 as the first place to be called; choose the order for contacting those on the call list; specify that 911 be called if the customer does not verbally respond when the PERS provider attempts voice-to-voice communication; and provide that if the customer does not designate 911 as the first call, 911 will by default be called after the PERS provider has tried without success to contact the the customer’s call list. The law also requires PERS providers to relinquish pertinent information to 911, and to call the people on the customer’s call list after 911 has been called, unless otherwise verbally specified by the customer at the time.

Christopher Baskin, CEO of American Two-Way as well as a board member of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association, said the law was not surprising. “This new law in Kentucky was actually discussed at the recent Medical Alert Monitoring Association annual meeting that was held on Oct. 14,” he said. “For the most part, we actually feel that most professional PERS providers are already doing this. I don’t see a problem with this legislation. We see it as states trying to make sure that the end user is getting the right kind of service.”

Baskin stressed the importance of MAMA’s role going forward. “In the 20 years that I’ve been involved in PERS, I’ve been surprised that there hasn’t been more regulation. The current trend, I do believe, is that there will be more regulation of the PERS industry to protect the consumer in the years ahead. That is part of why I serve on the board of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association. MAMA is going to play a very valuable role in reviewing this legislation and in improving it.”