House passes elder abuse legislation

Economic stimulus legislation hasn’t been the only item on Congress’s plate lately. The House of Representatives Wednesday passed a bill that would fund elder abuse prosecution and establish education and therapy programs for victims and their families.

The Elder Abuse Victims Act sailed through the House with a 397-25 vote. As part of the bill, Congress would direct the attorney general’s office to conduct research into current state and local elder abuse prevention programs. The legislation also would provide funding for elder abuse prosecution at local, state and federal levels, as well as law enforcement training and nurse-investigators to identify and evaluate elder abuse cases.

Between 1 million and 2 million seniors in the U.S. have suffered abuse, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). There is currently no Senate companion bill, though Sestak has said the Senate would likely pass a bill soon.