A bill submitted by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) will allow Medicare and Medicaid to pay long term care facilities for the background check of applicants for hire. It also provides for a centralized database from all states from which the background checks can be made.
The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007, which is supported by the American Health Care Association, would allow nursing homes to screen out applicants with a history of abuse or criminal actiivites from other states using a centralized database. Currently there is no overlap of the systems which can allow these types of individuals to work and possibly prey on one of our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly residents of nursing homes.
"AHCA's entire mission and focus is to ensure America's long term care facilities provide quality, compassionate care in a safe and secure environment for seniors and persons with disabilities - and we appreciate and support the approach put forward by Senator Kohl's legislation," stated Yarwood. "Ensuring that the most capable, honest employees are the ones caring for America's seniors is the most fundamental criterion for the provision of quality care."
The bill also will allow Medicare and Medicaid to pay for these screenings which can run anywhere from $23 to $47 per submission. With elimination of cost to the nursing homes, there is no reason for them to not run the background checks to ensure the quality of their staff.
Senator Kohl's bill would make permanent the features of a pilot program which has been running in 7 states since 2004 and prevented in 5,000 potential employees from being hired due to their criminal backgrounds.
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This bill, as I read it, states that those providing direct patient/resident care will be given criminal background checks. This leaves out the custodial staff, and others who have direct access to these residents. Each time a housekeeping staffer goes in to clean a resident's room, he or she are alone with that resident. Doors are closed to mop behind them, etc. All people working in nursing homes should undergo a criminal background check and be placed on a national registry. I see this as a big hole in this bill.AHCA is making nice about all this now but the fact remains that they could and should have been encouraged their members to do background checks all along. Nursing home reformers have been fighting for this for years and AHCA lobbyists make sure the politicians they own won't vote for it. They are merely a trade organization for nursing home owners/health care corporations and their primary purpose is public relations and lobbying for ways to increase their profits. They are supporting this now because the public is screaming and they won't have to pay for it. I doubt that Senator Kohl wants his name uttered in the same breath with AHCA.
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