May 01, 2014

ABA urges funding for Elder Justice Act

The ABA is urging Congress to provide fiscal year 2015 appropriations for the Elder Justice Act (EJA), which has received no funding since it was enacted with bipartisan support in 2010 as part of P.L. 111-48, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In an April 25 letter to House and Senate appropriations subcommittees, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman expressed the ABA’s vigorous support for the Obama administration’s budget request of $25 million to fund programs authorized by the EJA. The act, he said, is intended to provide resources to “prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.”

The $25 million includes $13.8 million to strengthen Adult Protective Service (APS) programs in states through creation of an APS National Data System and grants to states to interface with the system. The remaining $11.2 million would be used for research to create credible benchmarks for elder abuse, neglect and exploitation prevention as well as program development and evaluation. This would be done through national demonstration grants to test a variety of methods to detect and prevent elder abuse.

Susman emphasized in his letter that elder abuse in the United States is a problem not defined by socio-economic, racial or ethnic status.

The 2010 National Elder Mistreatment Study estimated that five million elders are victims of abuse each year. That number, however, may be only “the tip of the iceberg,” Susman said, because the 2011 New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study revealed that 24 out of every 25 instances of abuse go unreported.

Another study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute reported that older victims lose an estimated $2.9 billion per year due to financial exploitation, and direct medical costs associated with elder abuse have been estimated by researchers to exceed $5 billion annually.

“Providing federal funding to better understand, treat and combat elder abuse is an investment in the health, dignity and economic future of our nation,” Susman said.

The House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which have jurisdiction over EJA funding, are currently holding hearings on funding for fiscal year 2015.