House Passes Reschenthaler Bills to Protect Seniors Citizens, Pregnant Women in Custody
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed two pieces of bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14). The Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act (H.R. 6813), which Reschenthaler introduced with Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), directs the U.S. Department of Justice to develop best practices and training materials regarding elder abuse for assisting professionals – law enforcement, firefighters, emergency personnel, social workers, court officials, and medical professionals – who encounter and support people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. The Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act (H.R. 7718), introduced by Reschenthaler and Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), and Katherine Clark (D-MA), provides a national standard of care to address the health needs of incarcerated pregnant women and their unborn children. H.R. 6813 and H.R. 7718 now head to the Senate for consideration.
Senior citizens living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are particularly vulnerable to elder abuse as their condition makes it more difficult for them to communicate the crimes to law enforcement or to seek life-saving assistance from first responders. Particularly amid the coronavirus pandemic, having best practices will help first responders and other professionals effectively interact with this vulnerable population.
“I am proud that today the House passed the Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act, which will equip our nation’s first responders and caregivers with best practices to respond to incidents of elder abuse, including financial fraud, physical abuse, and neglect,” said Reschenthaler. “Senior citizens suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia are especially vulnerable to exploitation and other harm, and H.R. 6813 will ensure we have the tools to keep these Americans safe.”
"With this vote, a unified House of Representatives voted to support the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and others living with forms of dementia and their families," said Congressman Deutch. "For our loved ones living with this disease, we want the first responders and professionals caring for them to be properly trained in how to interact with them. Whether it's responding to emergency calls or protecting them from predatory scammers, these best practices will help prepare these health and emergency workers to properly respond to and care for them."
“The Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) are truly grateful for Reps. Deutch and Reschenthaler’s leadership to pass the bipartisan Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association chief public policy officer and AIM executive director. “A lot of hard work went into ensuring our seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, are at a decreased risk of falling victim to fraud and abuse. Our country’s law enforcement, firefighters, emergency personnel, social workers, court officials, and medical professionals will now be able to better support people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”
H.R. 7718 provides a national standard of care to address the needs of incarcerated women during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum periods. The population of women in prison has grown exponentially over the previous decades, but the prison system was designed with men in mind. This bill will address women’s health care needs, as well as those of their unborn children. The legislation also limits the use of restraints and restrictive housing for pregnant and postpartum prisoners.
“The Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act addresses the needs of pregnant and postpartum women in prison by ensuring access to necessary health care and services,” said Reschenthaler. “By improving access to these vital health care resources and providing training for law enforcement and corrections agencies, this bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation will produce better outcomes for mothers and their unborn children.”