What is the Elder Justice Act?

Elder abuse is something that should never occur but happens far too often mean the Pacific Northwest. Information available from the National Council on Aging shows that nearly one out of every ten individuals over the age of 60 experience abuse each year, but only a fraction of those cases are actually reported to authorities. In 2010, the US Congress passed the Elder Justice Act as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as a response to increasing concerns about elder abuse in this country.

What Does the Elder Justice Act Do?

The Elder Justice Act is a federal law that applies to those aged 60 and over, and this is the first major piece of legislation that addresses elder abuse in the United States. The main goal of the EJA is to coordinate federal and state agencies to respond to elder abuse together. The law also works to support any effort to prevent and detect elder abuse in the US. There are many provisions of the EJA, including:

  • Establishing an Elder Justice Coordinating Council and the Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation
  • Requiring long term care facilities to immediately report any crimes they become aware of inside their premises
  • Imposing various penalties for retaliation against individuals who report violations
  • Providing support for elder neglect, abuse, and exploitation forensic teams
  • Directing a study to create a national nurse aide registry and including background checks

Penalties for Violating the Elder Justice Act

Owners, operators, managers, employees, agents, and contractors at long-term care facilities who receive at least $10,000 in federal funding are required to report any reasonable suspicions of crimes being committed against residents or anyone inside of the facility.

Reports must be made to the Department of Health and Human Services as well as local law enforcement agencies within 24 hours after the incident occurs. If the incident could result or did result in a person sustaining a serious bodily injury, the report must be completed within two hours.

If any covered individual fails to comply with the EJA reporting requirements, they could face a monetary fine of up to $200,000. If the failure to report an incident increased the harm to a victim or resulted in harm to a different victim, the fine increases to $300,000.

Elder Abuse is a Serious Problem

Information presented by the National Council on Aging shows that elder abuse is a serious problem in this country. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and more. Data indicates that one out of every ten Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse, with as many as five million elderly individuals experiencing abuse every year. However, this abuse is likely significantly underreported.

If you or a loved one have experienced elder abuse inside of a long-term care facility or a nursing home, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled Portland nursing negligence attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can step in and conduct a complete investigation into the incident. Not only is it important to have a report on file so the state and federal agencies can conduct an investigation, but victims of elder abuse and their family members may be able to recover compensation. This includes coverage of any medical bills caused by the elder abuse, compensation for pain and suffering, and maybe even coverage to relocate to a different facility.