Monday, August 13, 2007

Senator Kohl Aims to Fight Elder Abuse

With the number of elder abuse cases on the rise, Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl is taking action. Senator Kohl made a stop in La Crosse today, renewing his call for a nationwide system of background checks aimed at preventing elder abuse. Wisconsin is currently part of a seven-state pilot program responsible for doing background checks on applicants to senior care facilities. Kohl hopes taking the program to national level will prevent elder abuse nationwide, and strengthen the current efforts in Wisconsin.

Last year in Wisconsin alone almost ten thousand applicants were screened before they were hired by long-term care facilities, two hundred sixty-five of those applicants were denied because of a history of neglect or abuse. "During the pilot program over the last three years, in 7 states, 5000 people were identified as people we didn't want to employ, and would have otherwise been employed. I think that demonstrated the need for a national registry," Kohl says. By offering the program on a nationwide level, it would allow states to screen applicants from all fifty states instead of just their own., and make sure cases like Doeslaere's don't happen again. "Predators have no conscience, predators have only one plan, and that is to find vulnerable people and prey up on them. That's why we need this law," Kriemelmeyer says.

Kohl says he expects a decision on the bill sometime before the end of the year, and that he has encountered little opposition to the bill. Creation of a national registry would cost around one hundred million dollars. Senior care providers would not be accountable for the cost, it would be a federal expense.

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