According to the Elder Justice Coalition, it is estimated that almost 11% of people ages 60 and older have faced some form of elder abuse in the past year. It is reported that seniors are defrauded to lose a minimum of $2.5 billion annually. It is imperative that this abuse stop, which is why I have been a lead advocate in the House on this issue.
My bill, the Elder Justice Act, was signed into law as part of the health care overhaul. Highlights of Act are as follows:
• Establishes an Elder Justice Coordinating Council to make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the coordination of activities of the Federal, State, local and private agencies and entities relating to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.
• Improves the quality of information and research related to elder abuse.
• Requires the immediate reporting to law-enforcement of crimes in a long-term care facility as well as monetary penalties for failure to report such crimes.
• Provides a first-time direct funding stream for Adult Protective Services (APS) for four years.
• Provides support for the Long-Term Care Forensic Centers
• Ombudsman Program and training programs
At my request, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it will encourage Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Victim Assistance program funds to be used to support social and legal services for victims of elder victims of abuse, financial exploitation, fraud, and neglect.