Bipartisan Group Introduces Bill to Create Semipostal Stamp to Help Combat Elder Abuse
In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act. This bipartisan bill would give U.S. Postal Service customers the option of purchasing a semipostal--or fundraising--stamp that would benefit efforts to raise awareness about elder abuse and support efforts to protect seniors.
"Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited," said Senator Collins, the Chairman of the Aging Committee. "Preventing and combatting elder abuse is one of my highest priorities. In order to protect seniors, law enforcement, social service agencies, the private sector, and nonprofits must work collaboratively. The Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act would help the federal government equip communities with the skills and resources they need to stem the tide of abuse."
"Elder abuse is a serious issue that has devastating and far-reaching consequences for our communities," said Senator Rosen. "This legislation would assist funding efforts to stop elder abuse, which would help give our seniors the peace of mind and safety they deserve. I will continue to support legislation that prioritizes the interests of our seniors."
"Aging Americans deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," said Senator McSally. "This will allow all Americans to support our aging communities by purchasing a stamp to combat elder abuse."
"As the population of seniors in the U.S. continues to grow, the need for strong protection from abuse of our elders becomes more critical each year. Vulnerable seniors can be victimized, even by the people who are supposed to be caring for them, and Congress has a duty to stop it. This bipartisan legislation will fund efforts to crack down on elder abuse and help to give all Americans safety and dignity in their golden years," said Senator Klobuchar.
The proceeds from this stamp would go to the Department of Health and Human Service's (HHS) Administration on Community Living (ACL) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). This additional funding for the ACL would be used to further support the development and advancement of emerging practices to prevent and respond to the abuse of older adults. Funding for the DOJ would go toward improving prosecution, data collection, litigation support, and prevention of elder abuse initiatives.
According to the National Council on Aging, approximately one in ten Americans age 60 years old or older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Additionally, according to the GAO, financial fraud targeting older Americans is a growing epidemic that costs seniors an estimated $2.9 billion annually; however, this number is likely higher as many of these cases are never reported because the victim is too often ashamed to report abuse, particularly when it involves a family member.
The Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act is endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Sheriff's Association, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
Bob Blancato, National Coordinator for the 3,000 member Elder Justice Coalition, thanked the bill's lead sponsors, stating, "We appreciate Senators Collins, Rosen, McSally, and Klobuchar's sponsorship of the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act of 2019. It is appropriate that introduction is taking place as advocates and concerned citizens hold events to observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day across the nation. We call on Congress to pass this bill quickly so that the Postal Service can begin its work to create the semipostal stamp that can help fund our fight against elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation."