Prosecutor: Bill will help prevent elder abuse

The elder abuse bill recently passed by the Ohio House will help protect seniors “from fraud and abuse in today’s society,” said Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser.

House Bill 49 — which is referred to as the Ohio Elder Justice Act and is jointly sponsored by Reps. Mike Dovilla, R-Berea, and Wes Retherford, R-Hamilton — passed by way of an 83-6 vote. The Senate is now considering the legislation that is designed to strengthen the laws protecting seniors from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

“House Bill 49 is very important to our continued and improving efforts to protect our senior citizens,” Gmoser said, also giving credit for the work of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Gmoser also provided testimony supporting the bill when it was in the Judiciary Committee. The bill was introduced into the house in February 2013.

Retherford said as technology advances “so does the use of technology for evil purposes.”

“Far too often the victims are members of the The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers who are reaching 60,” he said. “These men and women have fought for our country, worked hard for a living and provided us with the way of life we all hold so dear.”

Dovilla said the bi-partisan support received by the bill “highlights the necessity of reforming our Adult Protective Services system to help protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Lawmakers introduce host of bills

Sens. Shannon Jones, R–Springboro, and Charleta Tavares, D–Columbus, introduced earlier this week a legislative package “to fight the state’s high rate of infant deaths.”

Jones and Tavares are hoping their efforts help reduce Ohio’s bottom ranking in overall infant mortality (48th) and infant mortality among African-Americans (49th).

“Right now, Ohio is coming in nearly last in the nation for infant mortality, which is an unacceptable standard,” Jones said. “We lose too many babies in Ohio before they reach their first birthday and many of these cases can be prevented with proper training and education.”

The legislative package launched earlier this week is “designed to engage community leaders, health care professionals, and families on how we can all be a part of the solution to this heartbreaking problem.”

“This is the next step in moving our state up in protecting the health and safety of our infants,” said Tavares, the Senate’s Assistant Minority Leader. “We are focusing our attention on strategies that work and building a clearinghouse to identify and develop new promising practices to eliminate infant deaths.”

The five-bill legislative package includes:

  • Senate Bill 276: Improving Safe Sleep Education —this bill will provide an update to Claire’s Law, which currently requires Shaken Baby Syndrome education be given to all parents, by also requiring safe sleep education materials to be distributed to new parents.
  • Senate Bill 277: The Infant Mortality Commission — this establishes a commission to inventory state services, resources, and their funding streams available to address Ohio’s high rate of infant deaths.
  • Senate Bill 278: Understanding SIDS — the legislation will require use of the Sudden Unexplained Infant Death Incident Reporting Form whenever a child one year of age or younger dies suddenly when thought to be in good health.
  • Senate Bill 279: Health Center Pilot Project — this bill would establish a two-year pilot program using the model of Centering Pregnancy to improve birth outcomes at four Federally Qualified Health Centers. It also sets aside $500,000 in both fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to fund the pilot program.
  • Senate Bill 280: Postpartum Care & Reimbursement for Non-Medical Services — the legislation would require case management services for postpartum care be included in the Medicaid managed care system.

The bills package was announced during a press conference at Moms2B, a Columbus-area program designed to mentor pregnant women in having healthy pregnancies, deliveries, and babies.

Both legislators have also introduced Senate Bill 198 to help raise the awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

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