August 09,2021

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden, Neal, Casey, Bonamici Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize and Modernize Elder Justice Programs

Studies estimate that one in 10 Americans over 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse

WASHINGTON, DC—Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA), and Co-Chair of the House Elder Justice Caucus Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) unveiled a bill to protect seniors across the country by reauthorizing and funding the Elder Justice Act (EJA). The Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act of 2021 dedicates funding to vital programs and closes current policy gaps to better protect vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities. The bill also creates three new programs that address long-term care workforce needs, social isolation, and improved linkages to legal services.

“COVID-19 has laid bare the risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation faced by vulnerable seniors and folks with disabilities,” Chairman Wyden said. “Congress ought to fulfill the unmet promises of the Elder Justice Act, a law that was unfortunately left to languish without proper funding or implementation. It’s past time Congress act to make sure older Americans and Americans with disabilities are afforded the dignity they deserve.”

“The mistreatment and neglect that seniors and people with disabilities experience is unacceptable, and the pandemic has only further exacerbated the need to better protect these vulnerable populations,” Chairman Neal said. “By putting an end to chronic underfunding and strengthening elder policy, this bill will enhance existing programs and make it easier to seek justice. Our older population should be able to live out their later years knowing that they will be safe and taken care of, and I urge the Congress to quickly pass this much-needed legislation that will give them the peace of mind they deserve.”

“Seniors deserve to live out their golden years free from financial, physical and emotional abuse,” Chairman Casey said. “The Elder Justice Reauthorization Act would help combat cases of abuse and neglect among seniors. I will continue to fight to advance legislation to help seniors access legal services, protect their basic rights and prevent social isolation.”

“Older Americans are an important part of our community, and they deserve to age with dignity,” Congresswoman Bonamici said. “But too many seniors have experienced abuse and neglect, and the coronavirus pandemic has increased isolation and put even more people at risk. As Co-Chair of the House Elder Justice Caucus, I will continue advocating for this important update to the Elder Justice Act.”

Specifically, the legislation directly appropriates a substantial investment of $4 billion for new and existing EJA programs and activities through fiscal year (FY) 2025, including a total of:

  • $1.6 billion for a new post-acute and long-term care worker recruitment and retention program;
  • $1.4 billion for APS functions and grant programs;
  • $172.5 million for long-term care ombudsman program grants and training;
  • $500 million for supporting linkages to legal services and medical-legal partnerships (MLPs); and
  • $250 million to address social isolation and loneliness.

A one page summary of the bill can be found HERE.

A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found HERE.

The legislative text of the bill can be found HERE.