National Background Check Program for Long Term Care Employees Still in the Works

Long Term Care employees provide care to elderly patients in settings such as skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and hospices. Ensuring that these employees have undergone the requisite background checks and appropriate levels of screening helps protect patient safety. The ACA provides grants to states to implement background check programs for prospective Long Term Care employees. The program commenced in September 2010, with an expected completion date in 2018. The OIG has conducted an interim report on the progress of this program.

Twenty five states are participating in this grant program, however only six of the states have fully implemented the following three required background checks:

  1. a search of state-based abuse and neglect registries and databases;

  2. a check of state criminal history records; and

  3. a fingerprint-based check of FBI criminal history records.

Some states remain in the process of passing enabling legislation to fully implement the requirements, while others report that they do not have the ability to collect fingerprints or to monitor criminal history data subsequent to initial background checks.

The OIG recommendations propose that CMS continue to work with states to obtain authority to conduct all three required types of background checks, develop the capacity to collect fingerprints, and implement continuous monitoring of criminal history data in order to fully implement the national background check program.