The Senate Finance Committee paved the way for stricter background checks for nursing home workers, building on a CMS pilot program and adding an extra layer of security to a vulnerable patient population.
Measure pushes stricter background checks
The provision to the Senate health bill, offered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose home state was one of the test sites, mirrors the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act. A version of that bill was approved by the committee last year. Under the amendment, the program would expand nationwide and would put the onus on states to conduct screening and criminal history background checks and ensure that long-term-care facilities are compliant.
The stepped-up background checks would impact those workers who have direct access to patients.
Meantime, the committee also approved a measure that would bar public officials, including the heads of HHS and the National Institutes of Health, from being on the board for the proposed Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa authored the health bill amendment, which was one of the few Republican efforts that got the green light from the Democratic majority. Grassley has a long history of tightening governance rules in the not-for-profit sector. The PCORI would be charged with conducting comparative-effectiveness research.
“You got good people from outside of government that are very much involved in this process,” Grassley said. “And that's where it ought to be, in my judgment. I think that would relieve some of the concerns that some people have.”
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