CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H. R. 448 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. This resolution was introduced by Representative Joe Sestak (D-PA) on January 9, 2009.
H.R. 448 requires the Department of Justice to hire staff to work on elder justice issues and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to hire personnel to investigate cases of elder care neglect. The bill authorizes $3 million for fiscal years 2009 through 2011.
The bill also establishes Department of Justice grant programs to assist state and local prosecutors, law enforcement, and victim advocacy groups which deal with elder abuse issues. The victims advocacy grants are authorized at $3 million per year from 2009-2015. The bill authorizes $6 million annually from 2009-2015 for local prosecutor grants and $6 million per year between 2009-2015 for state prosecutor grants. The bill authorizes $8 million per year from 2009-2015 for local law enforcement grants, and $7 million per year from 2009-2015 for grants for organizations who evaluate the programs funded under the bill. Finally, the bill also authorizes $6 million for analysis, reports and recommendations related to Elder Justice Programs.
The Department of Health and Human Services operates a National Center of Elder Abuse, which coordinates efforts to combat elder abuse, exploitation, and neglect. This center was created by the Older Americans Amendments Act in 1992. National Center of Elder Abuse awards grants to carry out its goals and recent grant recipients include the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the University of Delaware.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, between 1-2 million Americans over the age of 65 have been injured, mistreated, or exploited by a caregiver. Data suggest that only 1 in 14 incidents are brought to the attention of authorities. The elderly are also vulnerable to financial exploitation and estimates indicate there are around five million elderly victims of financial abuse each year.
On September 23, 2008, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 5352, under suspension of the rules by a vote of 387-28.
While no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is available for H.R. 448, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 5352, a similar bill from the 110th Congress, "would cost $173 million over the 2009-2013 period, with remaining amounts spent in subsequent years."