In a move aimed at combating abuse and neglect in the nation’s long-term care facilities, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded more than $13 million on October 6, 2010, 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 health care law will help states identify the best, most effective ways to determine which applicants can be trusted with the health and safety of residents and which cannot,” said Donald M. Berwick, M.D., CMS administrator.

Created by the Affordable Care Act, the new National Background Check Program 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 are: 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.

Questions about the National Background Check Program may be sent via e-mail to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To learn more about conducting background investigations, click here.

Source: Department of Health & Human Services