Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act Passes Senate
S.178, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), passed the full Senate by voice vote this week. It will now be considered by the House. The EJC was thanked for its efforts in supporting the bill and advocating for its passage.
Bob Blancato, National Coordinator of the EJC, said in a statement in January on the bill: "This is one the most comprehensive and meaningful bills ever developed to address the rapidly increasing problem of elder financial abuse in America. It goes after the problem with three solutions in mind--to ensure prosecution of those perpetrating scams, improve our data collection so we better know the extent of the problem, and provide for enhanced prevention programs and activities to avert future victimization."
Per Sen. Grassley's press release, "This legislation expands data collection and information sharing to better prevent and respond to all forms of elder abuse and exploitation, including financial crimes against seniors. Specifically, the bill increases training for federal investigators and prosecutors and calls for the designation of at least one prosecutor in each federal judicial district who will be tasked with handling cases of elder abuse. It also ensures that the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Justice Department will both have an elder justice coordinator. Finally, to deter future crimes against seniors, the bill increases penalties for perpetrators - including mandatory forfeiture.
Seniors Fraud Prevention Act Passes Senate
S.81, the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), also passed the full Senate by voice vote this week and will be considered by the House.
According to Sen. Klobuchar's press release, the bill "would help protect seniors from fraud schemes by strengthening the reporting system to ensure complaints of fraud are handled quickly by the appropriate law enforcement agencies. The bill would also require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency responsible for handling consumer complaints, to coordinate with other agencies to monitor the market for fraud schemes targeting seniors. In addition, the bill would require the FTC to distribute information to seniors, their families, and their caregivers that explain how to recognize fraud schemes and how to contact law enforcement authorities in the event that a senior is targeted."
In January, the EJC said, "Once again, Senators Klobuchar and Collins are leading the way in efforts to protect older adults from fraud and exploitation. The Seniors Fraud Prevention Act would utilize the Federal Trade Commission's expertise in consumer protection to expand efforts to prevent fraud against seniors through monitoring the marketplace for the targeting of older persons. Having a dedicated office on consumer protection within the Federal Trade Commission is a common-sense idea. The FTC would share educational information with the elderly, caregivers, and the public on current schemes and how to avoid becoming a victim. The bipartisan Elder Justice Coalition commends Senators Klobuchar and Collins and supports this legislation. We hope the Senate will act quickly to pass this important bill and we commend the Senators for their continued leadership."
FY 2018 Federal Funding Updates
The House Appropriations Committee has voted to send the FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education bill to the full House for consideration. This bill funds several elder justice programs:
- The Social Services Block Grant, which was proposed for elimination under the Trump budget, was level-funded at $1.7 billion, the same as FY 2017.
- The elder abuse programs under the Older Americans Act were level-funded, including long-term-care ombudsmen.
- However, the Elder Justice Initiative had its funding cut from $10 million to $8 million, a reversal of last year's growth.
The EJC will be advocating to restore the Initiative's funding and to grow funding for other elder justice programs.
The Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) will be advocating to restore the Initiative's funding and to grow funding for other elder justice programs.