Bill would grant states money to pay for background checks for nursing home employees

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(Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story, we reported that providers would be responsible for paying for fees associated with employee background checks. That is not necessarily the case. A revised and updated version of the story follows.)

The Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2009, which was reintroduced in the Senate this week by Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME), would expand upon a seven-state pilot program that instituted federal background checks for potential nursing home employees.

Original language of the act would have directed the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to "establish procedures to reimburse the costs of conducting national criminal history background checks ... by providing payments to skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities or providers" through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. That provision, however, was removed when the bill made its way through the Senate Finance Committee last September.

Instead, the bill now would create a three-year grant program, under which states could receive funding that could pay for FBI background checks of potential nursing home employees, according to congressional aides familiar with the bill.

Nursing home associations and a wide variety of other stakeholders, including 41 State Attorneys General, AARP and nursing home reform advocates, have come out in favor of the bill.


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