What You Need to Know
- EJA programs, enacted under the ACA, have been chronically unfunded or underfunded.
- The bill dedicates funding to vital programs and closes current policy gaps.
- The bill appropriates $4 billion for EJA programs and three newly created ones.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., have reintroduced legislation to reauthorize and fund the Elder Justice Act (EJA).
The bill, the Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act of 2021, is also sponsored by Bob Casey, D-Pa., chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., co-chair of the House Elder Justice Caucus.
The bill was introduced on Monday and dedicates funding to vital programs and closes current policy gaps to better protect vulnerable older Americans and people with disabilities.
It also creates three new programs that address long-term care workforce needs, social isolation and improved links to legal services, the lawmakers said.
The bill directly appropriates $4 billion for new and existing EJA programs and activities through fiscal 2025, including:
- $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.
“COVID-19 has laid bare the risks of abuse, neglect and exploitation faced by vulnerable seniors and folks with disabilities,” Wyden said in a statement. “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.”
Enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Elder Justice Act programs were originally created to address the need for prevention, detection and treatment of abuse of older Americans and people with disabilities, working in tandem with flexible funding from the Social Services Block Grant that many states use partially for Adult Protective Services, a summary of the bill explains.