Elder Abuse Commission

Establishes an elder abuse commission to review the dependent
adult protection law and to report to legislature. (SB994 HD2)

THE SENATE                              S.B. NO.           S.D. 2
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 1999                                H.D. 2
STATE OF HAWAII                                            

                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT



 1      SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the frail or
 2 dependent segment of Hawaii's elderly population is particularly
 3 vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation (collectively
 4 referred to as "abuse").  Abuse crimes (physical abuse, sexual
 5 abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect,
 6 abandonment, and self-neglect) pose significant threats to the
 7 safety and well-being of the elderly.  
 8      In Hawaii, the general trend of elder and dependent adult
 9 abuse follows the national trend of gradual and steady increase,
10 according to a 1996 analysis by the National Center on Elder
11 Abuse.  Hawaii's population of older persons is dramatically
12 growing in proportion to the general population, with Hawaii's
13 rate the third highest in the nation for persons aged sixty and
14 over.  Presently, one person in six in Hawaii is sixty or older,
15 and by the year 2020 one person in four will be sixty or older.
16      Contributing to the increase in abuse is the decline in
17 Medicare reimbursements and in health insurance systems payments,
18 leaving the elderly with a decline in support services for
19 in-home care and respite services for caregivers.  This results
20 in greater stress upon caregivers who may abuse the elderly in

Page 2                                                     994
                                     S.B. NO.           S.D. 2
                                                        H.D. 2

 1 frustration.
 2      The legislature further finds that the traditional family
 3 support system for the elderly is disintegrating as a result of
 4 the State's poor economic condition, forcing untrained family
 5 members to care for the elderly or ignoring the elderly
 6 altogether because of work demands.  
 7      The legislature further finds that part X of chapter 346,
 8 Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to dependent adult protective
 9 services, which was enacted in 1989 has not been the subject of
10 any review to determine its adequacy, implementation,
11 enforcement, or efficacy in light of current conditions, trends,
12 and new national developments in combating abuse.  For example,
13 the modern approach in dependent adult protective services is to
14 connect human services agencies, police, and legal services to
15 form an integrated network of communication, enforcement, and
16 prevention, similar to the child protective services review panel
17 under chapter 587, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the Child Protective
18 Act.
19      The purpose of this Act is to create an elder and dependent
20 adult abuse review commission to review Hawaii's elderly and
21 dependent adult abuse protective services law and related
22 administrative rules to determine if the statutes and rules
23 should be revised or repealed, or both, with a view toward

Page 3                                                     994
                                     S.B. NO.           S.D. 2
                                                        H.D. 2

 1 evaluating and strengthening those services, incorporating new
 2 developments in those services, and decreasing incidents of
 3 abuse.
 4      SECTION 2.  There is established an elder and dependent
 5 adult abuse review commission within the department of health for
 6 administrative purposes.  The commission shall consist of the
 7 long-term care ombudsman of the executive office on aging and one
 8 representative from each of the following agencies or groups:
 9      (1)  The department of human services;
10      (2)  The police department of one county;
11      (3)  The department of the prosecuting attorney of the city
12           and county of Honolulu;
13      (4)  One county agency with responsibility for elderly
14           affairs;
15      (5)  The department of commerce and consumer affairs;
16      (6)  An organization providing legal services to elders;
17      (7)  The office of the public guardian;
18      (8)  An advocacy group for older adults;
19      (9)  The department of the attorney general;
20     (10)  The older adult population;
21     (11)  The Protection and Advocacy Agency of Hawaii;
22     (12)  The state planning council on developmental
23           disabilities; and

Page 4                                                     994
                                     S.B. NO.           S.D. 2
                                                        H.D. 2

 1     (13)  The American Association of Retired Persons.
 2      SECTION 3.  The commission established under section 2 of
 3 this Act shall:
 4      (1)  Examine means to strengthen current elder and dependent
 5           adult abuse laws and related administrative rules;
 6      (2)  Review the effectiveness of the reporting and
 7           investigation of elder and dependent adult abuse cases;
 8      (3)  Review the adequacy of the provisions of part X of
 9           chapter 346, Hawaii Revised Statutes, relating to elder
10           and dependent adult protective services;
11      (4)  Conduct a comparative analysis of the Hawaii Revised
12           Statutes and administrative rules in the area of elder
13           and dependent adult abuse with other states' laws,
14           including California, Maryland, Washington, and
15           Florida; and
16      (5)  Make recommendations for statutory or administrative
17           rule amendments deemed appropriate by the commission,
18           including but not limited to:
19           (A)  Formulating a multidisciplinary services system to
20                respond to reports of elder and dependent adult
21                abuse and to provide follow-up services to
22                victims;
23           (B)  Standardizing the definitions and reporting

Page 5                                                     994
                                     S.B. NO.           S.D. 2
                                                        H.D. 2

 1                procedures for elder and dependent adult abuse;
 2           (C)  Requiring mandatory education for health workers
 3                to recognize and report elder and dependent adult
 4                abuse and to refer victims to services;
 5           (D)  Creating or increasing civil remedies against
 6                perpetrators of elder and dependent adult abuse;
 7           (E)  Suggesting legislation concerning abuse, fraud, or
 8                neglect of elder and dependent adults; and
 9           (F)  Establishing a system of interagency coordination
10                of elder and dependent adult abuse investigations,
11                including the use of cooperative agreements.
12      SECTION 4.  The elder and dependent adult abuse review
13 commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the
14 legislature no later than twenty days before the convening of the
15 regular session of 2001, and shall cease to exist on June 30,
16 2001.
17      SECTION 5.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.