Included in the new health care bill is $777 million, spread over the next four years, for programs to prevent and prosecute elder abuse says the New York Times.
Under the new plan, state and local adult protective service programs will have the first dedicated financing stream from the federal government. These agencies investigate reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of elderly and disabled adults, and then insure the safety of those proven to have been victimized.
“It’s a momentous day for the victims and the people who serve them,” said Joe Synder, the director of older adult protective services at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and the public policy chairman and former president of the National Adult Protective Services Organization. “We have been waiting for this forever.”
The act provides financing for 1,700 new investigators of elder abuse around the country, for state demonstration grants to test various new approaches to adult protective services, to support existing state ombudsmen and to train new ones to investigate complaints related to long-term care facilities, including assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
The new law will also create a coordinating council to make further recommendations on preventing elder abuse to the federal secretary of Health and Human Services in a report due in two years.
Separately within the health care package, another new federal law, the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, creates a national system of criminal background checks for those seeking employment in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Among the organizations applauding the move, though not formally part of the Elder Justice Coalition, is the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents 100 of the nation’s largest banking, insurance and investment companies. Some of them have already seen how small expenditures in training low-level bank employees can protect the elderly from the most common forms of abuse: financial exploitation by family members, trusted friends or caregivers, and financial scams perpetrated by strangers.