Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced today that the panel will hold a business meeting on Friday morning to consider three proposals that would support vulnerable children and protect senior citizens. The Committee is slated to consider a Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act, originally introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a Chairman's Mark of the Elder Justice Act, originally introduced by Senators Blanche Lincoln (D - Ark.) and Orrin Hatch (R- Utah), and a Chairman's Mark of the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, originally introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D- Wis.). Baucus said the proposals would strengthen and renew adoption incentives and foster care policies, provide resources to prevent elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, and do more to protect patients receiving care in nursing homes.
"These proposals will benefit hundreds of thousands of America's most vulnerable children and senior citizens," said Baucus. "Boosting adoption incentives, helping families and tribes care for kids, and protecting seniors from abuse are issues all Senators can come together to support. I look forward to considering these proposals in the Finance Committee, and bringing these good policies one step closer to becoming law."
The panel will consider the Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act, which would extend and increase incentives for adoption, particularly incentives for adoption of children with special needs. The proposal would make it easier for immediate relatives to care for foster kids, and - for the first time - would direct federal assistance to family members, generally grandparents or aunts and uncles, who have been awarded guardianship rights known as relative guardianship. In addition, the proposal would support relative care givers through funding for grants that permit flexibility in licensing standards and that connect relatives to the services they need to care for kids. The Chairman's Mark adds to the original Grassley proposal, a provision to give Native American tribes the same access to foster care, adoption assistance, and adoption incentives that states currently receive. The Chairman's Mark would also significantly increase resources available to children aging out of the foster care system to successfully transition into adult life. A summary of the Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act can be found on the following pages.
The Committee will also consider the Chairman's Mark of the Elder Justice Act, which would significantly strengthen prevention, detection, monitoring, and intervention of elder mistreatment, abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The Elder Justice proposal will direct federal resources toward projects that will assist families, communities, and states in fighting elder abuse, through programs like training to identify and combat abuse and the creation of a resources database on education and prevention efforts. It will tighten requirements for long-term care facilities to report abuse, and provide additional informational resources for families looking for long-term care options. The proposal will also do more to assist long-term care workers, including bolstering recruitment and supporting continued training.
The Chairman's Mark of the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act will also be considered by the panel on Friday. This bill would expand a successful seven-state pilot program that was part of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The Chairman's Mark would build on the current program's record of success by making money available to states nationwide to improve their existing background check infrastructure for employees with direct access to frail elders and individuals with disabilities in long-term care facilities and other settings. These efforts would significantly improve the ability of states to design cost-effective and efficient background check systems that would reduce the risk of elder abuse in the thousands of facilities and other settings where many of the most frail Americans receive health and long-term care.
The markup is scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, August 1, 2008, in room 215 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the Medicare program, grants to States for aid and services to families in need, child welfare services, and adoption assistance. A summary of the Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act follows here.
Summary of the Chairman's Mark of the Improved Adoption Incentives and Relative Guardianship Support Act