While health care reform captured the national headlines, the Elder Care Justice Act, which is part of the overall reform, deserves our attention as well. When Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, was asked about provisions in health care reform that received little fanfare, she pointed to the EJA. This part of the legislation that was signed into law on March 23, gives our nation a solid framework to protect seniors from being beaten, neglected and exploited.
The reason this is an important step forward is because the EJA is the most comprehensive federal legislation ever enacted to combat elder abuse. The EJA authorizes increased federal resources and leadership to support state and community efforts to prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse. It also authorizes funding for broad-based education and awareness efforts.
This is a critical victory for today's seniors and each of the 76 million boomers that have a one in ten chance of facing elder abuse as our society ages. More at Los Angeles Hospice
Where the funding will go:
Adult Protective Services
" Provides $400 million ($100 million per year) in first?time dedicated funding for adult protective services.
" Provides $100 million ($25 million annually) for state demonstration grants to test a variety of methods to improve adult protective services.
" Provides $32.5 million (over 4 years) in grants to support the LongTerm
Care Ombudsman Program and an additional $40 million ($10 million
annually) in training programs for national organizations and State long?term care ombudsman programs.
Elder Justice Coordinating Council
" Makes recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the coordination of activities of federal, state, local and private agencies and entities relating to elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Recommendations contained in report are due in 2 years.
The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act
" Creates a national program of criminal background checks for persons seeking employment in nursing homes and other long?term care facilities.
" Creates a voluntary payroll deduction plan for long-term care workers. Employees who pay into the program for at least five years will be entitled to a daily cash benefit of at least $50 that they can use for long-term care at home or in a community-based setting. Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing homes would retain 5 percent of their cash benefit; and Medicaid beneficiaries receiving home and community-based services would keep 50 percent.
Home and Community-Based Services
" Creates a state Medicaid option to provide community-based attendant services and supports for people who meet their state's nursing home eligibility standards.
" Gives states the option to provide home and community-based services through a state plan amendment, rather than a waiver. Requires the plan to be statewide; prohibits caps on the number served; and enables targeting of individuals with specific conditions.
" Creates incentives for states to move Medicaid beneficiaries out of nursing homes into home and community-based services. Extends the Money Follows the Person program for six years.
" Extends spousal impoverishment protections to spouses of Medicaid beneficiaries receiving home and community-based services.
" Eliminates Medicare Part D cost-sharing requirements for people who are receiving long-term care under a home and community-based waiver.
" Provides for grants and demonstration programs to train workers in geriatrics and long-term care.
Side Note: The Senate Special Committee on Aging estimates that there may be as many as 5 million elder victims of abuse every year.
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