To combat abuse and neglect in the nation’s long-term care facilities, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today awarded more than $13 million to six states to design comprehensive applicant criminal background check programs for jobs involving direct patient care.
“Elder abuse and neglect is tragic and intolerable,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Workers with a history of abuse or neglect should be identified and prevented from ever working with residents of these facilities.”
The new National Background Check Program, created with funds from the healthcare reform legislation, will help identify “best practices” for long-term care providers to determine whether a job seeker has any kind of criminal history or other disqualifying information that could make him or her unsuitable to work directly with residents.
The first round of states to participate in the program include: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Missouri, and Rhode Island. They each will share a portion of $13.7 million.
An additional 11 states applied and may be funded beginning in October or November. CMS will also issue a second solicitation in October for those states that did not apply but may still do so.
The new law set aside $160 million for the program, which is to run through September 2012, an amount sufficient to enable all states to participate.
The national background check for each prospective direct patient care employee must include a criminal history search of both state and federal abuse and neglect registries and databases, such as the Nurse Aide Registry or FBI files.
Long-term care facilities or providers covered under the new program include nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospice providers, long-term care hospitals, and intermediate care facilities for persons with mental retardation, and other entities that provide long-term care services.