Congress Drags Feet on Nursing Home Abuse Bill. Abuse of the elderly is a significant problem in our country’s nursing homes. A bill addressing these issues sat in Congress for many years. No one opposed the legislation, however there was no urgency to push the bill through Congress. As Congress rested on the issue, the problem of nursing home neglect, abuse, and financial fraud continued to grow.
The National Center on Elderly Abuse (NCEA) figures that 1 in 20 elders in nursing home care has received some form of abuse. The NCEA report also estimates that 57% of healthcare employees in long-term care cases admit to having seen or even having taken part in some harm toward the senior residents. One of the top issues that contribute to these incidents is inadequate salaries to staff members and historically long-term understaffing. Also, the number of Americans living in nursing homes is increasing every year. Industry watchdogs fear that reports of elder abuse will continue to increase as well.
Advocates for the Elderly Act, while admitting it is by means the fix all they would like, still hope it will strengthen efforts to fight these types of crimes. The Elderly Act would establish offices in the U.S. Department of Justice and Health and Human Services and allocate $400 million for state adult protective services for four years. The Elderly Act would also create and empower a federal committee to oversee the government’s efforts. Also, forensic centers would be established throughout the country to probe cases of elderly abuse as well as supplying local courts with more workforce in the investigation of abuse.
Additional Legislation Passes
The House of Representatives passed the Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2009 by a vote of 397-25. The bill is the same as the bill that was passed the previous year but wasn’t voted on by the Senate.
This bill will:
- Protect seniors from elder abuse by establishing abuse prosecution and research projects
- Provide special training for prosecution and law enforcement related to the elderly
- Create programs that address emergency crisis and response teams.
A comparable bill will head to the Senate. The Elder Justice Coalition is hopeful that the steps which are now being taken will lead to further legislation aimed at protecting the elderly.
The house also passed an act called the “Silver Alert” bill. The bill is designed to bolster silver alert plans throughout the country, by providing grants to organizations which help to find missing seniors.
Congress passed the Elderly Justice Act on March 23, 2010. The Elderly Justice Act was the first piece of federal legislation to provide specific federal funding explicitly aimed at senior neglect, exploitation, and abuse.
The text of the bill reads:
“The EJA: Establishes national leadership in the office of the secretary of Health and Human Services in the form of an Elder Justice Coordinating Council and Advisory Board.
Authorizes grants to support Improvements to Adult Protective Services and Long-term Care Ombudsman programs, and State survey agencies for Medicare and Medicaid certified long-term care Facilities.
Authorizes grants for the training of APS, Ombudsman, Federal and state surveyors of nursing facilities.
Authorizes grants for forensic centers to develop expertise on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Enhances long-term care staffing, data exchange in facilities, Mandatory reporting of crimes against residents in federally funded facilities, promulgation of guidelines to assist researchers, and authorizes a study aide registry.”
Free Nursing Home Abuse, Neglect or Financial Fraud Case Review
Our legal team here at Parker Waichman LLP has the experience to represent you or your loved one in the event of nursing home abuse, neglect, or financial fraud.
Call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (I-800-968-7529) for your free consultation and case evaluation.