– State Rep. Gary Day (R-Lehigh/Berks) convened a House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee hearing Friday in Bucks County to listen to stakeholders with an interest in a four-bill package of legislation aimed at combatting elder abuse.
“We have a responsibility as a Commonwealth to care for and protect our senior citizens,” said Day, who became chairman of the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee earlier this year. “We have several bills we are working on that would help law enforcement and others combat the problem of elder abuse in Pennsylvania.”
The committee heard from testifiers who provided feedback about the four bills. Day sponsored one of the proposals – House Bill 398
– under consideration by the committee.
Day’s bill would protect older Pennsylvanians susceptible to financial exploitation and would enable those senior citizens who have been financially exploited to pursue justice. The legislation would allow financial advisors to report to law enforcement or a government agency the suspected financial exploitation of older residents. It also would enable adults who have been financially exploited to seek recompense for legal fees and costs, and additional compensation related to the crime. Current law does not provide a specific remedy for older adults who suffer financial exploitation.
“Senior citizens worked hard for their money and many of them live on a limited income,” Day said. “My bill would help protect senior citizens against financial exploitation and provide those who are victimized with a way to seek justice through the legal system.”
The committee heard additional testimony about legislation (House Bill 397
) that would permit electronic monitoring devices in long-term nursing care facilities. Another proposal (House Bill 398) would establish financial exploitation of elderly or care-dependent individuals as a crime and provide specific punishments and penalties. Current law does not specifically prohibit financial exploitation of elderly or care-dependent people. The fourth bill in the package (House Bill 400
) would make it a crime to ridicule care-dependent persons by sharing photographs, videos or other digital images of them through social media or wireless communication.
“We are taking a comprehensive look at the issue of elder abuse,” Day said. “We’re currently seeking feedback about the proposals with the hope that we can then strengthen the bills and prepare them for a vote in the committee.”
Those who testified before the committee today include Denise Getgen, director of protective services at the Pennsylvania Department of Aging; JR Reed, executive director and chair of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Inc. (P4A) Protective Service and Guardianship Committee; Greg Rowe, director of legislation and policy, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association; Kate Kohler, deputy district attorney, Bucks County; AJ Garabedian, deputy district attorney, Bucks County; Zach Shamberg, president and CEO, PA Healthcare Association; Anne Henry, senior vice president and chief government affairs officer, LeadingAge PA; and Margie Zelenak, executive director, Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association.
The hearing was held at New Hope Eagle Fire Company in New Hope.
Representative Gary Day
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing