A bipartisan group of senators today introduced a bill to prevent criminals from working within long-term-care settings by establishing a nationwide system of background checks. The legislation, introduced by Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), would introduce a system that would coordinate abuse-and-neglect registries with state law-enforcement registries and cross-reference potential employees with the FBIs national database of criminal history records. In addition, the legislation will expand upon a federal pilot program that has already proven successful in many states, Kohl said.
The CMS has been conducting the pilot program in seven states to implement systems that screen out certain applicants for employment in long-term-care facilities. Those whose backgrounds include findings of substantiated abuse and/or a serious criminal history are excluded from the application process. Michigan, the state with the most developed system and thorough data, in the first year of operation excluded more than 3,000 people with records of abuse or a disqualifying criminal history.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). The Elder Justice Coalition, the National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, and the AARP are some of the organizations that support the bill. -- by Jennifer Lubell