[co-author: Stephanie Kozol]*
Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) Andrea Joy Campbell announced the creation of a new Elder Justice Unit, which will use existing resources to protect and promote the safety and well-being of elders through enforcement actions, legislative advocacy, and community engagement and education.
“By creating this Unit, we are prioritizing the rights of elderly residents to live with dignity – free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation,” Campbell said in the statement announcing the move. “My office will continue to serve as a dedicated resource for older adults, address their most-pressing needs and advocate for and implement solutions.”
Heading the unit will be Assistant AG Mary Freeley, who has served as deputy chief of the Massachusetts AG’s Health Care and Fair Competition Bureau since 2015. In this role, she has helped oversee the office’s Antitrust, False Claims, Health Care, Medicaid Fraud, and Non-Profit/Charities Divisions, and assisted in some of its most high-profile matters.
According to Campbell’s statement, the Elder Justice Unit will work with her office’s Criminal, Public Protection and Advocacy, and Health Care and Fair Competition bureaus to:
- Convene internal and external elder justice groups to listen to priorities and ongoing issues;
- Prosecute the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable older adults, including in the areas of long-term care, financial exploitation, and scams;
- Work with the AG’s Community Engagement Division to conduct intentional outreach to elders; and
- Advocate for state and national policy that aligns with, and advances, the work of the Elder Justice Unit.
Why It Matters
The work of the Massachusetts AG’s Elder Justice Unit could have considerable overlap with investigative and enforcement initiatives by the office’s Consumer Protection and Medicaid Fraud Divisions. Campbell’s creation of the unit demonstrates that her administration, which commenced in January 2023, intends to focus resources on the protection of vulnerable elderly consumers.
*Senior Government Relations Manager