For the first time, last March, Congress passed a comprehensive federal elder abuse prevention law. This was an important victory for aging advocates, but now a year later, the law is powerless due to a lack of funding.
A year later, vulnerable older adults who should be protected by the law are confronted with the same threats they faced a year ago. This is a sad reality given the increasing severity of elder abuse in this country. According to a recent National Institute of Justice study, almost 11% of people ages 60 and older (5.7 million) faced some form of elder abuse in the past year. A 2009 study estimated that 14.1 percent of non-institutionalized older adults nationwide had experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. Financial exploitation of older adults is increasingly alarming. A 2009 report by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) estimates that seniors lose a minimum of $2.5 billion each year.
Elder abuse, neglect and exploitation is a serious and widespread social justice problem and a major health issue. Victims of elder abuse are often abused by family members or someone close to them and victims tend to be older, frail and often dependent on their abusers for life’s basic necessities and care. Victims of elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation have three times the risk of dying prematurely. To this day, elder abuse is the only form of family violence for which the federal government provides virtually no resources.
State Adult Protective Services agencies are at the front line at the state and local level in the fight against elder abuse yet they are ill equipped to do their jobs. The main funds in the Elder Justice Act are dedicated to adult protective services in all 50 states. President Obama demonstrated his recognition of the urgent need to support APS by requesting funding for APS in his FY 2012 budget. Congress must build from his proposed $16.5 million request.
Another important tool in the fight against elder abuse are the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen. Their job is to respond to complaints of abuse and neglect in the nation’s long-term care facilities. The President has requested an additional $5 million in funding to strengthen and improve the Ombudsman program.
It is critical that funding for the Elder Justice Act become a reality this year. Those who commit crimes of elder abuse will continue to have the upper hand unless we provide new funding for those who would stop them.
Funding the Elder Justice Act would send money directly to the states to create jobs and protect our seniors from abuse; keeping them out of harm, from losing their life savings, and needing expensive care.
Elder justice unfunded is elder justice denied. Congress must finish the job and fund the Elder Justice Act so we can work to do what actor Mickey Rooney pleaded at a recent Congressional hearing—STOP ELDER ABUSE NOW!
Robert Blancato, National Coordinator
Shannon Donahue, Coordinator of Advocacy and Outreach
Hearing-Senate Special Committee on Aging-“Justice for All: Ending Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation” Elder Justice Coalition Testimony Submitted by Bob Blancato, National Coordinator March 2, 2011
On Tuesday, May 25th, EJC National Coordinator, Bob Blancato testified to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security on the Senior Financial Empowerment Act of 2009.
Written Statement of Bob Blancato, National Coordinator, Elder Justice Coalition Older Americans Act Elder Abuse Listening Session Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee October 11, 2011
Elder Justice Act Introduced
The Elder Justice Act was introduced in the Senate on April 2nd, 2009 and the House on April 21st, 2009. S. 795, the Elder Justice Act was authored in the Senate by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and co-authored by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) with original co-sponsors Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). On the House side the EJA companion bill, H.R. 2006, was authored by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and co-sponsored by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). A section by section summary of the Elder Justice Act is available in the Legislation section.
Proposed Amendment from NALSD
As part of our role to provide information about the Elder Justice Act, we are pleased to provide some language related to possible modifications to the Act as developed by the National Associate of Legal Services Developers. The Coalition offers no position for or against this language. However as a coalition membership service, we wish to share it with all members. If you wish to offer any views on the language, please send it directly to the Association.