Senate committee gives OK to background checks bill

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Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
The Senate Finance Committee last month passed two bills that seek to prevent the abuse of elderly long-term care residents. 

Receiving a unanimous voice vote, the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act. (S. 1577) would create a comprehensive nationwide system of background checks, preventing those with criminal histories from working within long-term care.

“Today we are one step closer to passing a bill to give vulnerable seniors and their families the protection and peace of mind they deserve,” said Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, who introduced the bill, along with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM).

Under the bill, states would establish coordinated systems that include checks against abuse and neglect registries and a state police check. The background check process also would screen applicants against the FBI's national database of criminal history records.

The Senate in March passed an amendment to the fiscal year 2009 Budget Resolution that will create a reserve fund to pay for a nationwide expansion of a three-year pilot program. The resolution is contingent on passage of the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee in September also passed S. 1070, legislation that would authorize $777 million to establish state and local training and assistance programs for long-term care employees. It also would establish a database used to identify and track elder abuse cases.

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