Funding available for nursing home employee background check systems

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Thursday began accepting grant applications from states to establish systems for background checks for potential long-term care employees.

The grants are part of the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, a bill that was supported by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and was part of the healthcare reform law that passed this March. The provision expands upon a recently conducted seven-state pilot program that was effective in preventing the hiring of more than 7,000 persons with a violent or abusive past.

Grant recipients will receive funding over three years to create comprehensive, coordinated systems that will prevent those with criminal records and a history of abuse from gaining employment in long-term care facilities. Besides establishing these systems at the state level, the law requires potential hires to be checked against the FBI's national database of criminal history records.