Act 53 Expands Authority of Attorney General’s Office to Prosecute Abuse and Neglect of Care-Dependent Individuals in Pennsylvania
READING — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today praised a new Pennsylvania law expanding the authority of the Office of Attorney General to prosecute abuse and neglect of care-dependent persons in nursing homes and similar settings. Under prior state law, the Attorney General’s office only had power to prosecute neglect cases, not abuse.
“Prior to passing this new law, Pennsylvania law treated ‘neglect’ and ‘abuse’ differently,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro explained today in Reading, where he stood with members of his Medicaid Fraud Control Section, Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks/Lancaster) and Berks County Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Dr. Edward B. Michalik. “Until now, my office only had jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute neglect of care-dependent persons. This new law gives us the law enforcement power we need to investigate and prosecute abuse as well. I want to thank Representative Cox, the General Assembly, and Governor Wolf. Act 53 will allow us to better protect Pennsylvanians in nursing homes and similar settings from abuse and neglect.”
Act 53 gives the Office of Attorney General jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute those who physically abuse seniors in nursing homes. It also increases the office’s ability to prosecute neglect cases by removing the need to prove that actual physical injury occurred in order to establish the charges.
“This new law gives law enforcement personnel the tools they need to prosecute deadly neglect of a care-dependent person,” said Rep. Cox, who introduced House Bill 1124, which is now Act 53. “Those caregivers who kill a person by neglecting the individual will no longer be able to hide behind a legal loophole.”
The Office of Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Section’s Care-Dependent Neglect Team works aggressively with local and state authorities to root out and prosecute neglect of Pennsylvania seniors and care-dependent persons. The office has recently brought felony neglect and other charges against a Luzerne County charge nurse, an Erie County aide, a Berks County man, and a Philadelphia nurse for failing to properly care for people entrusted to their care.
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