Long-term care background check program off to slow start, OIG says

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The background check program has disqualified 3% of applicants, OIG said
The background check program has disqualified 3% of applicants, OIG said

A federal initiative that provides states with grants to implement background check programs is off to a sluggish start, according to a new government report.

States that received grants through the National Background Check Program for Long Term Care Employees, now in its fourth year, have so far seen varying levels of success, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General said in its Tuesday report.

Of the 25 states that received grants, only six — Alaska, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma and the District of Columbia — have submitted data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sufficient enough to calculate how effective the background checks are at weeding out dubious potential employees. Eight states have submitted insufficient data, while the remaining 11 states were have not submitted data reports yet.

The background check program breaks implementation into three milestones, to be reached in any order: obtaining legislative authority to begin a program, collecting fingerprints and continuously monitoring criminal history information.

Ten of the 25 states have yet to start collecting fingerprints, while 15 haven't begun monitoring criminal history information. Thirteen states in the program have yet to pass legislation enabling the program, although some states received their grants later and have had less time to pass legislation, OIG noted.

In the states that have begun submitting sufficient data to CMS, the background check program has disqualified 3% of potential long-term care employees, according to the report.

OIG recommended that CMS continue to work with states to fully implement background check programs and improve reporting, so that the program's outcomes can be accurately determined. CMS agreed with OIG's recommendations.

A report on the progress of the background check program was included as part of OIG's Fiscal Year 2016 Work Plan.