CBS19: Spanberger, Katko introduce bill for medical-legal partnerships to help seniors

CBS19

A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives aims to improve access to legal and social services in health care settings for seniors and other vulnerable adults.

Representatives Abigail Spanberger and John Katko introduced the Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act on Wednesday.

According to a release, this legislation would create medical-legal partnerships with multidisciplinary teams of clinical staff, social workers and lawyers at a health care site.

The bill would create a grant program for individual states to create such partnerships establishing, improving or maintaining linkages between health and social services for vulnerable seniors who are in health care settings.

Specifically, such partnerships would aim to assist in meeting needs that can have an impact on overall health, such as housing, food and access to care.

Under this legislation, states would need to fund the development and expansion of legal assistance hotlines to identify seniors who could benefit from access to such services.

The release says these hotlines would help connect patients to professionals who can address issues related to health, neglect, isolation and exploitation.

“The U.S. population is aging, and our seniors deserve the resources required to make informed decisions about their care. However, seniors and vulnerable patients cannot always determine when they require legal aid in addition to medical treatment and, in many cases, may not be aware of the large array of resources that are available to them” said Spanberger. “When vulnerable seniors have access to social workers and legal expertise at healthcare sites, the likelihood of meeting the whole of their needs and finding solutions to their challenges greatly increases. Elder abuse is a silent epidemic in the United States, and the Linking Seniors to Needed Legal Services Act would give our seniors valuable tools to prevent abuse before it happens.”

The release says this bill would directly appropriate $125 million for each fiscal year 2022 through 2025 to fund these kinds of programs as part of the Elder Justice Act.

To read the full bill, click here.

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