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Recognizing Leaders in Elder Justice

AARP has recognized several members of Congress for their leadership in combating elder abuse and exploitation, which has been the subject of emotional congressional hearings. Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) all have sponsored the Senate’s version of the Elder Justice Act, which aims to reduce such abuse by enhancing the training and education of those who deal with older people. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) were similarly cited for their work with the legislation in the House. They all are recipients of AARP’s 2009 Congressional Awards, which commend “the hard work lawmakers do on behalf of our members and all older Americans,” says AARP CEO A. Barry Rand.

Awardees were praised for actions that will “help improve the physical, emotional, mental and financial well-being of older Americans,” according to the citations.

The Elder Justice Act supports efforts to locate and punish abusers. It also promotes coordination between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice when law enforcement participation is required. The legislation, which was introduced as a stand-alone bill, has gotten widespread congressional support. But versions of it have been incorporated into the overall debate on health care reform.