April 01, 2014

Don’t Let Congress Go Another Year Without Funding the Elder Justice Act

(Note: The pdf for the issue in which this article appears is available for download: BIFOCAL Vol. 35, Issue 4.)

The first major legislation ever enacted by Congress addressing elder abuse, the Elder Justice Act, is about to finish its fourth year of existence since its passage in 2010 without ever having a penny appropriated under it. So far, Congress has handed seniors a false hope. The President’s proposed budget for fiscal Year 2015 includes $25 million in funding for the Act, but it will be an uphill battle to convince Congress to adopt that figure, even though that amount is but a shadow of the original $757 million authorized by the Act over four years.

The viability of the Elder Justice Act depends on the strength of the public’s demand to include the Administration’s proposed $25 million in this year’s appropriations bills. The American Bar Association wrote letters to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittees on April 25, supporting the Administration’s modest FY 2015 budget request to fund programs authorized by the Elder Justice Act.

Specifically, the Administration’s proposal would provide $13.8 million to strengthen Adult Protective Service (APS) programs in the states by creating an APS National Data System and providing grants to states to interface with the System. It also would establish national demonstration grants to test a variety of methods to detect and prevent elder abuse. 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.

Everyone’s voice needs to be heard.

Go to the Elder Justice Coalition’s web page to get more information and to use the easy tool for contacting your Senators and Congressman: http://elderjusticecoalition.com/current-issues. ■