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On June 14, the White House hosted a day-long program on elder abuse awareness, focusing on federal efforts to coordinate education, training, protection and enforcement of laws protecting older Americans from abuse, focusing on financial exploitation.
Besides me, there was a nice LeadingAge presence:
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), emphasized that elder abuse is an unrecognized civil and human rights issue; purpose of today’s program to raise public awareness, show concrete steps that federal government is taking.
Sebelius announced the creation of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (mandated in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), which would coordinate federal agencies involved in preventing and prosecuting elder abuse (HHS, DOJ, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FDIC, etc.).
The secretary emphasized that this is a top priority at DOJ. However, she noted that enforcement alone is not the answer, must combine resources and expertise of all groups.
James Cole, deputy attorney general at DOJ, spoke on the type of actions the department is taking in such areas as combating Medicare fraud, and attacking consumer issues like lottery scams, reverse mortgage, scams, etc.
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), talked about the need to use pilot projects to determine what works. He noted a study that showed older Americans lost $3 billion in 2010.
Cordray announced that 1 agency initiative is to study credentialing of advisors. Also, the DOJ is looking at schemes directed at veterans, both young and old. The goal is to educate public about suspicious transactions.
After the presentations, there was a Panel on “Preventing Financial Exploitation.” Keynote speakers were:
The panel presentation on prevention followed, moderated by Edwin Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Administration on Aging and Administration for Community Living.
The following people presented:
Laura Mosqueda, M.D., director of geriatrics at the U.C. Irvine School of Medicine:
Rebecca Rangel, senior vice president of community affairs at Bank of the West, spoke about their work on education and outreach campaigns, the importance of finding out what is effective at reaching the public.
Dianne Shovely, vice president of of fraud services at Financial Intelligence Department, Comerica Bank, talked about various fraud schemes, how the elderly are “befriended” and then scammed. The importance of understanding the red flags.
In the afternoon, the panel presentation focused on prosecution:
The final speakers were Catherine Weatherford, president and CEO of Insured Retirement Institute, who spoke to the work they are doing on retirement issues, and Hubert H. (Skip) Humphrey, the assistant director of the Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans, CFPB, who spoke about the work the office is doing in:
Kathy Greenlee closed the meeting, reiterating both her personal commitment and federal government’s commitment to address elder financial abuse.
All-in-all, a long day, but an impressive array of speakers. I'd say there is a lot for LeadingAge members to think about.
Finally, a new coalition was announced: Ageless Alliance United Against Elder Abuse, a grass-roots movement connecting people of all age groups to identify, prevent and eliminate elder abuse, which will potentially affect you, me and every single one of us at some point in our lives.