Government News
Bill to Halt Elder Abuse Makes Progress in Senate
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 20 page 10-10

The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill last month designed to cast national attention on the problem of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

"Every day in this country, too much crime and abuse against older Americans go undetected and unaddressed," said Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) last month when the committee approved the Breaux Elder Justice Act (S 333). Breaux is a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

Breaux first introduced the elder abuse legislation in 2002 as ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Last year he reintroduced the bill, which was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill languished there until last month when the committee approved the measure 20-0, according to the September 21 CQ Today.

The Elder Justice Act is a high priority for Breaux, said his spokesperson, Brian Weiss, last month. "The senator would like to have the full Senate vote on the bill before Congress adjourns this month, but we don't have a date yet," Weiss told Psychiatric News late last month.

Meanwhile, Reps. Rahm Emmanuel (DIll.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), co-sponsors of the companion bill (HR 2490) in the House of Representatives were working to have the bill voted on by the House Energy and Commerce Committee before adjournment.

"This abuse of seniors takes many forms. It can be physical, sexual, psychological, or financial. The perpetrator may be a stranger, an acquaintance, a paid caregiver, a corporation, and, far too often, a spouse or another family member," Breaux said.

Reported cases have been estimated at 470,000 in 2000 (Psychiatric News, October 18, 2002). However, experts believe that incidents of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are widely underreported and have estimated that the actual number of cases could be as high as 5 million.

Breaux stressed that the federal government spends just $153 million to protect older Americans compared with the $6.7 billion it spends to combat child abuse and $520 million to prevent violence against women, according to the Senator's press release.

The Breaux Elder Justice Act would provide an estimated $240 million in grants annually between 2006 and 2009 to accomplish these goals:

The Elder Justice Act can be accessed online at<thomas.loc.gov> by searching on the bill number, S 333, or name.

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