Long-term care providers in 11 states identified nearly 3% of ineligible job applicants through a national background check program in the past two years. 

The Office of Inspector General, Health and Human Services, recently assessed the participation of 11 states using the National Background Check Program for Long-Term-Care Providers in 2017 and 2018. 

The program is designed to help providers identify job applicants who are ineligible to work in the industry due to state or federal criminal histories, such as healthcare fraud or controlled substance abuse. The OIG found that just two states implemented all of the program requirements. 

A total of 971,039 total background checks were completed, with nearly 25,600 checks resulting in ineligible LTC job applicants. Michigan, Minnesota, Utah, and Kentucky had the greatest percentages of determinations of ineligibility. 

Michigan also led with the highest number of checks, at nearly 400,000, compared to West Virginia and Nevada running around 57,000 checks. 

The report reinforces the need for providers to have access to the National Practitioner Data Bank so they can do immediate vetting, said David Gifford, M.D., the American Health Care Association’s Chief Medical Officer and senior vice president of quality of regulatory affairs.

“While the state and federal background check programs are well-intentioned,  there are numerous hurdles to full implementation in individual states,” he said in a statement to McKnight’s. “The long-term care profession has asked repeatedly for facilities to have access to the Data Bank, which would allow providers to immediately begin conducting more thorough checks on healthcare workers while states work through the legislative and administrative details of implementing the background check program.”  

There was no “evidence of unintended consequences associated with conducting background checks, such as a reduction in the available workforce for long-term-care facilities or providers,” the report stated.

The OIG recommended the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services encourage states to obtain necessary legislative authority to fully implement program requirements.