Elder Abuse Bill Passes Judiciary Committee; Other Bills Introduced in 115th Congress
S.178, Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act
, introduced by Sen. Grassley, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 9, 2017 with many members of the Committee co-sponsoring the bill. This is an update of S.3270 from the 114th Congress, which passed the Judiciary Committee but did not make it to the full Senate for a vote before the end of the session. As Bob Blancato, National Coordinator of the EJC, said when the bill was introduced last month: "This is one the most comprehensive and meaningful bills ever developed to address the rapidly increasing problem of elder financial abuse in America. It goes after the problem with three solutions in mind--to ensure prosecution of those perpetrating scams, improve our data collection so we better know the extent of the problem, and provide for enhanced prevention programs and activities to avert future victimization."
Several other new bills on elder justice issues have been introduced or reintroduced already in the 115th Congress:
- S.182, Court-Appointed Guardian Accountability and Senior Protection Act, Sen. Klobuchar; introduced January 20, 2017 (incorporated into S.178)
- S.81, Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, Sens. Klobuchar and Collins; passed Senate Commerce Committee on January 24, 2017 [EJC support letter]
- H.444, Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2017, Rep. Deutsch; introduced January 25, 2017
- S.223, Senior$afe Act of 2017, Sen. Collins; introduced January 24, 2017
EJC Leadership Meeting Held
In late January, the EJC leadership group held a meeting to discuss 2017 priorities. Edwin Walker, Acting Administrator, Administration for Community Living (ACL); Hilary Dalin, ACL; and Evelyn Fortier, Senate Judiciary Committee were present.
Walker met with the new Administration's "beachhead" team for ACL for the first time last week; it is headed by Paula Stannard who was the Deputy General Counsel in HHS under the Bush administration and who assisted in implementing Part D. He learned that the team would like to learn more about our policy positions, conferences, and the aging world in general. Walker says that ACL will be working to analyze the impact of the Congressional proposals on the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare on the aging and disability populations.
Fortier discussed the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, passed today in the Senate Judiciary Committee; she said that they are not seeking much new funding through this bill due to Senate restrictions on funding in new legislation, but will seek it in the appropriations process. She also said that Sen. Grassley will continue to advocate for the highest funding levels possible for VAWA as well as for the highest cap possible for the VOCA Crime Victims' Fund.
EJC Priorities for 2017
Our priorities for 2017 include:
- New HHS, ACL appointments: determine where they stand on elder justice and hold them to a high standard.
- FY2017 Appropriations: obtain highest funding levels possible for remainder of FY2017 after CR expires in April.
- FY2018 Appropriations: preparing for release of budget and responding; advocating for highest funding levels possible.
- Fight to maintain funding for SSBG, Medicaid, DoJ programs (VOCA, VAWA).
- Determine the status of Elder Justice Act reauthorization under the ACA repeal/replace issue; if needed to be replaced/reauthorized, work toward this goal.
- Work to pass other elder justice legislation.
EJC 2016 Highlights
The EJC accomplished a lot in 2016, from news clips to presentations to testimony and more. Here are some of our highlights:
Bills Introduced/Acted On
Sponsor: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Introduced: Feb 6, 2015
Passed Committee: Nov 15, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)
Introduced: Feb 11, 2016
Passed House: Jul 5, 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Introduced: Apr 5, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D-PA)
Introduced: Apr 21, 2016
H.R. 4963: Elder Abuse Victims Act of 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Peter "Pete" King (R-NY
Introduced: Apr 15, 2016
S.Res. 498: A resolution designating June 15, 2016, as "World Elder Abuse Awareness Day."
Sponsor: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Introduced: Jun 16, 2016
Agreed To (Simple Resolution): Jun 16, 2016
Sponsor: Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL)
Introduced: Jul 8, 2016
Sponsor: Sen. Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA)
Introduced: Jul 14, 2016
Passed Committee: Sep 15, 2016
Funding for Elder Justice Issues
In the FY 2016 appropriations cycle, the Elder Justice Initiative received $8 million; the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program received $20.7 million; Elder Rights Support Activities under the OAA received $3.9 million, and the Social Services Block Grant received $1.7 billion.
The Administration for Community Living is
eight innovation grants totaling $3.3 million to support the development of knowledge and infrastructure in the areas of guardianship, elder abuse forensic centers, self-neglect, and combatting elder abuse in Indian country. ACL is also funding $2.2 million for two-year grants in thirteen states to enhance statewide APS systems, improve practices and data collection, and interface with ACL's National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS).
White House Conference on Aging Follow-Up Work
Throughout 2015 and 2016, we have followed up on the work of the WHCOA. We submitted comments on the voluntary guidelines for state Adult Protective Services (APS), we worked with the Department of Justice to make sure that the guidelines that were issued for the Victims of Crime Act's Crime Victims Fund clarifying that elder abuse victims are eligible for services and compensation were published in a timely manner, and we provided feedback on the DoJ's elder justice website.
Testimony, Interviews, and Media Clips
We provided the following written Congressional testimony, oral testimony, interviews, and letters to the editor:
- Written outside witness testimony to House/Senate Appropriations Committees
- Written Judiciary testimony for Committee Hearing: "Protecting Older Americans from Financial Exploitation"
- Elder Justice Coordinating Council meeting oral testimony
- "Elderly couple's $4 million suit accuses caregivers of major household theft," Washington Post, May 11
- "Daylong conference, forum at UWS to focus on elder abuse," Duluth News Tribune, May 20
- "Thank you, Sen. Grassley for addressing elder abuse," Des Moines Register letter, July 22
- "Elderly, lonely and suffering from dementia - to thieves, the perfect mark," Washington Post, July 25
- "Conference on aging: Elders facing abuse, scams," Longview News-Journal, October 6
CRS Report on Elder Justice Act Released
On January 24, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a new report "The Elder Justice Act: Background and Issues for Congress." It is an update from a report they did in 2014. It includes some elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation data as well as a succinct description of the Elder Justice Act (EJA) and how it has been implemented to date. The report supports the need for the EJA and several additional legislative proposals and validates the goals that the Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) discussed at our meeting on January 27th.
As the report states, "Elder abuse is a complex issue that often requires a multifaceted policy response that combines public health interventions, social services programs, and criminal law enforcement for abusive behavior." With regard to the EJA's low funding, it states, "As a result of this limited federal funding, the federal government has not substantially developed and expanded its role in addressing the prevention, detection, and treatment of elder abuse." As we know, this complex problem needs a comprehensive response and that requires more than a few million dollars each year. That is why the EJC continues to fight for EJA appropriations, legislation that addresses the criminal justice aspects of elder abuse, and a full reauthorization of the EJA.
The CRS report references studies which find that 11 percent of individuals ages 60 and older living in the community reported some type of abuse in the past year, and that such studies are likely to underestimate the real number of abused elders. Yet, the report's dated data convinces me that there remain significant gaps in what we know about the magnitude of this blight on society. The report includes a legislative history, which reminds us of how far we have come since 2002 when Senator John Breaux and his staff invited us to their offices to help write the bill (but would not let us leave with a draft copy). But the history also calls attention to the fact that parts of the original bill's vision were not included in the bill that became law. Thus, the EJC has kept up a steady drumbeat in support of a stronger criminal justice response to elder abuse that has never been codified in law. A primary element of our agenda this year is passage of several stand-alone bills introduced by Senators Grassley, Blumenthal, and Klobuchar, and Representative Peter King.
The CRS report is an important resource. It highlights the work that has been done (e.g. Elder Justice Coordinating Council) and the many pieces that should stand front and center in our EJC work this Congress and beyond. Here is the
link to the report
Sessions Confirmed by Senate as AG
On Wednesday, February 8, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)'s nomination for Attorney General was approved by the full Senate. While the new Attorney General does not appear to have a record of proactively supporting elder justice issues, we look forward to working to educate him in his new position on the importance of this subject.
Webinar: Expert Q&A: Applying for VOCA Formula Funds on the State Level
On February 15, 2017, at 2 p.m. e.t., the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center will present an Expert Q&A discussion with Grace Call on Applying for VOCA Formula Funds on the State Level: How to Navigate the New Final Rule, Increased VOCA Funding, and the State Administrating Agency Applications.
Now that the VOCA Final Rule has been released, many more non-profit agencies can now apply for funding to assist unserved and underserved victims. The VOCA Final Rule released some previous restrictions in the VOCA Victim Assistance Guidelines but this does not mean necessarily every state's statutes, rules and/or policies have changed. This session will provide some best practices on how to best navigate this complicated state system to maximize your agency's ability to build capacity in your organization and increase services to our most vulnerable victim populations.
Invitation for Feedback from Members
If you have any feedback on our 2017 priorities, wish to get further involved, or have any questions or comments at all, please email
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