Snap Fact #178

President Obama Saw To It That Elder Justice Was Incorporated Into the 111th Congress's "OBAMA CARES" Legislation!
One more of the many stark differences between the Democratic majority 111th Congress and the Republican dominated 112th is their responsibility toward our elderly citizens. While you read this short SNAP-FACT think about which Congress best represented your beliefs on this issue, and think about which attitude would you like the 113th to come to Washington D.C. with.

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. 

As the number of older Americans increases, so does the potential for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. According to a National Institute of Justice study, almost 11% of people ages 60 and older (5.7 million) faced some form of elder abuse. 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.

The historic health care reform bill* that President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010, includes the Elder Justice Act, the Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act, the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, the CLASS Act and provisions designed to improve the ability of people to get needed long-term care services at home. 
This was an important victory for aging advocates, but since the enactment, impact has been undermined by meager funding by the predictable 112 Congress in their 2011 and 2012 budgets. President Obama’s proposed budget for FY 2012 did contain a request for first time funding for the Elder Justice Act (total of $21.5 million).  

In spite of meager funding, however, much has been and can continue to be accomplished. The enactment by President Obama's signature put into law a set of provisions designed to address many of the weaknesses in federal and state efforts to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older people. Including :

1. Authorization of several grant programs, such as a new state formula grant program for adult protective services (APS), 

2. Establishing requirements for reporting of crimes in long-term care facilities, and 

3. Creation of advisory bodies on elder abuse within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Versions of these provisions had been considered by Congress for a number of years before its enactment in 2010. President Obama's leadership saw to it that this obviously beneficial section was just one element of the "Obama Cares" package of benefits that should make us proud to have this law named after the driving force behind it.

(*Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, PPACA)