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Legislative Action

Shocked by inadequate long-term nursing home care, Congress took legislative steps to combat elder abuse. For example, Title XX of the Social Security Act compels states to fund protective services for adults.  Adult Protective Services (“APS”), a result of Title XX in many states, strives to prevent elder abuse and exploitation of the elderly living in the community.  Congress directed all states to establish a Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program in 1978.  The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program provides individuals in long-term care facilities with protection against neglect and abuse.  In addition, Congress introduced the Elder Abuse Treatment & Prevention Act in 1980.  However, the Act, which resembled the federal child abuse statute, was never successfully passed through the legislature. 
Despite this setback, Congress did successfully ratify the Older Americans Act.  The Older Americans Act “creates federal programs designed to identify, prevent, and address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.”  Furthermore the Older Americans Act Amendments of 1987 oblige local Area Agencies on Aging (“AAA”) to evaluate the need for elder abuse prevention programs. 
The legislature also recently passed the Nursing Home Reform Act.  The Nursing Home Reform Act “sets rigorous standards for Medicare-and Medicaid-funded long-term care facilities, establishing staffing and credential requirements, individualized plans of care, and a series of ‘residents’ rights’.”  It is hoped that these legislative actions will help stem some of the ongoing abuse in nursing homes and provide safer places for elderly residents.  Additionally, in Profeta v. Dover Christian Nursing Home, 189 N.J. Super. 83, 86 (App.Div. 1983), held that N.J. Stat. Ann. § 30:13-8 allows actions to enforce the nursing home residents’ bill of rights act and to recover damages for its violation. The statute provides that any person or resident whose rights as defined in the act are violated shall have a cause of action against any person committing such violation.

Inside Legislative Action