Elder Law

ABA president urges Senate to support nursing homes in next COVID-19 stimulus bill

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ABA President Judy Perry Martinez asked U.S. Senate leadership Monday to include S. 4182, the Emergency Support for Nursing Homes and Elder Justice Reform Act of 2020, in the next COVID-19 economic relief bill.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Martinez said the legislation would reauthorize the Elder Justice Act, which allocates funding for state demonstration programs that “assess the fairness, effectiveness, timeliness, safety, integrity and accessibility of adult guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.”

With minimal funding, Martinez said, 25 states established Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders or similar groups that volunteer to help accomplish the goals of these programs. The WINGS program was expanded in 2016 through an Elder Justice Innovation grant awarded to the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, and “we have the potential to accomplish much more with additional funding,” she added.

Martinez also wrote in the letter that state demonstration grants could be expanded to address data collection, court visitors and information sharing on guardians. She said these efforts will “increase public awareness and expand financial resources for responding to a nationwide problem of elder abuse, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Elder abuse in the United States is a problem that respects no boundaries,” Martinez said. “It is not defined by socioeconomic, racial, gender or ethnic status, and it occurs with alarming frequency in every state.”

She said reauthorization of the Elder Justice Act would provide personal protective equipment and testing and promote transparency related to the presence of COVID-19 in nursing homes. It would also ensure the immediate reporting of abuse in long-term care facilities, promote “televisitation” for nursing home residents and continue to fund elder justice programs, among other initiatives.

See also:

ABA Journal: “Fending for the Elderly: ABA sees Elder Justice Act as partial solution”

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