03012017CM0381WebPLAINFIELD – There will now be higher criminal penalties for felonious scams that target the elderly and disabled, thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) passed Senate Bill 69, which would institute tougher penalties on Class 2 felony offenses against an elderly person or a person with a disability. It was signed into law last week.

“There are scammers preying on our seniors,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “To discourage this awful epidemic, we must put regulations in place to protect the financial well-being of Illinois’ seniors and people with disabilities.”

This new law expands the Class 2 felony offense of theft by deception over $5,000 to include offenses committed against a person with a disability.
It also clarifies that consent cannot be used as a defense in a case of financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability if the accused knew or should have known that the victim lacked the ability to consent.

Nearly 5 million older Americans are financially exploited. While scammers are often to blame, more than half of cases involve exploitation by a family member. A 2014 study by Mark Lachs, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital found that almost 60 percent of cases involve a perpetrator who is a family member.

Lachs also reported that elder abuse victims—including those who suffer financial exploitation—die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused.

“This new law will give our law enforcement the additional means to act against those attempting to exploit the elderly in Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “These restrictions will help make scammers think twice before attempting to manipulate seniors and people with disabilities.”

Senate Bill 69 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

05092019CM0885PLAINFIELD – Illinois seniors may soon be better able to cover the cost of hearing aids, due to a new law championed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood).

Bertino-Tarrant’s measure, House Bill 3503, requires insurance companies to offer optional coverage for hearing instruments and any related services for all individuals when they are prescribed by a hearing care professional. It was signed into law on Friday.

“There have been recent studies that have shown important links between hearing loss and feelings of depression or isolation.” Bertino-Tarrant said. “However, hearing aids are often a burdensome expense to seniors who are on a limited income to begin with. The goal of this legislation is to ensure this medically necessary equipment is financially accessible to Illinois residents.”

According to Health Affairs, more than 26 million adults aged 50 years and older with hearing loss reside in the US. Lack of hearing aid uptake is a public health concern because untreated age-related hearing loss, with its accompanied reductions in speech understanding, is associated with increased risk of social isolation, falls, hospitalizations, and cognitive decline.

Insurance companies are required to cover up to $2,500 per hearing aid every 24 months under the legislation. A senior has the option to select more expensive equipment, but will be required to pay the uncovered cost out of pocket.

The new law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

House Bill 3503 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. Representative Natalie Manley (D-Joliet) is the lead sponsor in the House.

Senior Fraud Prevention 002SHOREWOOD— To inform and educate local residents on the latest frauds and scams, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant is hosting a fraud prevention workshop.

Bertino-Tarrant is partnering with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to host an informational Fraud Prevention Workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Township Community Center (25448 W. Seil Rd., Shorewood).

She is encouraging area residents to join her to learn about how to stay vigilant against identity theft, check credit reports and file consumer fraud complaints.

“Scammers and fraudsters are constantly seeking new ways to exploit our confidence, and every one of us can be susceptible,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This workshop will help keep local residents up-to-date on ways to protect yourselffrom losing money and compromising personal information to identity fraud.”

The workshop is free for area residents. Bertino-Tarrant urges people to call her office at 815-254-4211.

JBT4PLAINFIELD – There is a new law in Illinois to help combat the alarming rise of female genital mutilation in the nation thanks to State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) championed House Bill 3498, which removes the statute of limitations for the prosecution for female genital mutilation (also known as FGM) if the victim is under 18 years of at the time of the offense. The measure was signed into law last week.

“Survivors of FGM are often too young to report this horrendous crime,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The emotional and health repercussions of it are lifelong. This new law will give them time and assure them they will have the opportunity to seek justice when they are ready.”

Under previous law, the statute of limitations for FGM is three years, which is the standard for a felony offense. Long thought to be a foreign problem, Bertino-Tarrant stressed that FGM is happening in Illinois. It is estimated that 10,000 to 25,000 women and girls have been cut or are at risk for being cut.

The age at which girls undergo FGM ranges from seven days old to young adulthood; most commonly, it is performed between the ages of two and fifteen.

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