The House gave its approval Tuesday to House Bill 215 sponsored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon) that would criminalize the willful abuse and neglect of care-dependent people by caregivers when the abuse and neglect result in death.
“Care-dependent individuals may be elderly, disabled, have intellectual disabilities or otherwise rely on others for their daily care,” said Rep. Gingrich. “House Bill 215 would make it a crime for caretakers to physically or mentally abuse a care-dependent person, and for knowingly or intentionally endangering the welfare of a care-dependent person by failing to provide needed treatment, care, goods or services.”
Rep. Gingrich’s bill covers community residential facilities for the mentally disabled, adult daily living centers, licensed and unlicensed home health care service providers, and any person who has voluntarily assumed an obligation to provide care because of a family relationship, contract or court order.
“While most caregivers are professional and offer quality and appropriate care, it is clear that some have no business in that role,” said Rep. Gingrich. “My legislation stems from a horrible case in Palmyra in which three care-dependent individuals died following severe abuse and neglect at a personal care residence operated by Tina and Clifford Fake. My bill would ensure that abuse will be sufficiently punishable by law. It will help to protect care-dependent people by holding caregivers accountable for their actions.”
Under House Bill 215, a caretaker commits abuse if he or she inflicts physical harm, threatens, harasses, annoys or unduly alarms a care-dependent person, or subjects them to lewd or lascivious behavior. Neglect occurs when a caretaker willingly endangers a care-dependent person by withholding needed treatment, care and services.
“There are a growing number of senior citizens in Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Gingrich. “We must ensure that there is adequate protection for our seniors and all others who are care-dependent.”House Bill 215 is now on its way to the Senate for consideration. A summary and House Fiscal Note are available.