It has been just over a week since the Supreme Court decision upheld President Barack Obama’s health care reform law. As the debate continues in the media, we want to bring up another aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that will affect seniors.
U.S. Lawmakers included the Elder Justice Act, which has received limited media coverage, in the 2010 healthcare reform law. Its purpose is to combat elder abuse, a $2.9B a year problem. The bill will coordinate federal efforts and provide an estimated $5.5 million in grants to “test ways to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.” 
The Act plans to accomplish the following:
- Establish centers to gather evidence relating to elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.
- Improve staff training in skilled nursing facilities.
- Aid Federal and State entities in the enforcement abilities to prosecute elder abuse cases.
Patricia L. McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, believes that in order to protect elderly victims from financial predators, there needs to be more enforcement by regulators. 
“The bottom line is, you need to go after the predators. You need to punish them and you need to convict them,” she said. “Put them in jail and make an example of them, but more importantly, get the money back for that victim. Make them whole again.”
Unfortunately, there is a lack of absolute data on the problem, which is something that could hopefully be solved through further research.
“As people get older, particularly, up into their 80s…they’re just less able to process financial information,” said Elizabeth Costle, director of the consumer and state affairs team at the AARP Public Policy Institute. “They’re more likely to be trusting of people and they open themselves up to more abuse, which is perpetrated both by strangers and by caregivers and family members who are close to them.”
Do you think the Elder Justice Act can help protect the individuals living in skilled nursing facilities from financial exploitation?