Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., have reintroduced a bill — for the fourth Congress in a row — designed to help protect the elderly from abuse.

"More than 500,000 Americans over 60 are the victims of domestic abuse," Hatch said. "I am committed to doing all I can to pass legislation to protect them from those who would prey upon them physically, financially and psychologically."

The bill would order the federal government to collect data on elder abuse; penalize failure to report abuse and other crimes in long-term care facilities; provide Adult Protective Services grants with $100 million annually for four years; and create a council to coordinate federal, state and local response to elder abuse.

Hatch noted that the government spends $6.7 billion a year on child abuse and $520 million a year on domestic abuse, but just $153 million on elder abuse. He said that is a tiny amount considering that 76 million baby boomers will reach retirement age over the next three decades.

Similar bills have been passed by the Senate Finance Committee for the past three congresses, but it has failed to be enacted into law.