AARP Backs Spanberger’s Bipartisan Bill to Combat Elder Abuse, Improve Link Between Health & Social Services for Seniors

The Congresswoman’s Legislation Would Create Medical-Legal Partnerships to Improve Seniors’, Other Vulnerable Elders’ Access to Legal & Social Services in Healthcare Settings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following last month’s introduction of U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan bill to help protect seniors from elder abuse, AARP has now backed her legislation.

Spanberger’s Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act would create and expand medical-legal partnerships — multidisciplinary teams that combine clinical staff with social workers and lawyers at a single healthcare site — to improve seniors’ and other vulnerable elders’ access to legal and social services in healthcare settings and help protect them from elder abuse. Specifically, this bipartisan legislation would create a grant program for individual states to develop medical-legal partnerships to establish, improve, or maintain linkages between health and social services for vulnerable seniors in healthcare settings. Spanberger introduced the legislation alongside U.S. Representative Marc Molinaro (R-NY-19).

In a letter to Spanberger and Molinaro, AARP Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Bill Sweeney stated the organization’s support for the Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act and outlined how medical-legal partnerships benefit seniors who may be facing abuse.

“AARP, which advocates for the more than 100 million Americans age 50 and older, is pleased to support the bipartisan Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act (H.R. 8588). We appreciate your efforts to support older adults’ access to services and address elder abuse,” said Bill Sweeney, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, AARP. “Medical-legal partnerships enable hospitals, clinics, and other settings to address the unhealthy social conditions that cause people to return for treatment again and again. Attorneys help patients and staff navigate the complex system and address the root causes of problems, such as housing, nutrition, and more, that may have potentially negative effects on health outcomes and exacerbate health disparities.”

On Monday evening, Spanberger joined AARP Virginia for a town hall to discuss her efforts in Congress to support family caregivers, lower the cost of prescription drugs, and connect seniors to the resources they need.

Click here to read AARP’s letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Representatives Spanberger and Molinaro:

AARP, which advocates for the more than 100 million Americans age 50 and older, is pleased to support the bipartisan Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act (H.R. 8588). We appreciate your efforts to support older adults’ access to services and address elder abuse.

Older adults have unique health and social needs. Providing person-centered care means looking at and addressing the needs of the whole person. Your legislation would provide grants to states to improve older adults’ access to legal and social services in health care or community settings through the creation of medical-legal partnerships — multidisciplinary teams that combine clinicians with social workers and lawyers — to help protect against elder abuse.

Medical-legal partnerships enable hospitals, clinics, and other settings to address the unhealthy social conditions that cause people to return for treatment again and again. Attorneys help patients and staff navigate the complex system and address the root causes of problems, such as housing, nutrition, and more, that may have potentially negative effects on health outcomes and exacerbate health disparities. It is important to encourage the implementation of innovative programs and linkages between health care and social services and supports.

Thank you for your bipartisan efforts on this legislation. We look forward to working with you to improve the health and well-being of older adults and address elder abuse.

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