Providence, RI - October 8, 2010
RI to Receive $1.3 Million from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Protect Seniors from Abuse
PROVIDENCE— Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts applauded Rhode Island’s selection as one of only six states to receive $1.3 million of a total $13 million in the first round of funding for long term care reforms from the Affordable Care Act. The money will be used to help develop and set up comprehensive background check programs for direct care workers, to improve patient safety and combat abuse in long-term care facilities. The funding opportunity was identified by the Healthy RI National Health Reform Implementation Task Force, led by Lt. Governor Roberts, in a report released late last month.
“I formed the Healthy RI Implementation Task Force to make sure Rhode Island is at the forefront in implementing the federal health reform law," said Lt. Governor Roberts. "The award to Rhode Island by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid was identified by the task force work group on long term care as one of the first of many opportunities in the law that are available to our state. It's very gratifying to see the hard work of the task force members is already paying dividends for Rhode Islanders who will begin to realize the maximum benefits this law has to offer," explained the Lt. Governor.
“Elder abuse and neglect is tragic and intolerable,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Workers with a history of abuse or neglect should be identified and prevented from ever working with residents of these facilities."
“The new health care law will help states identify the best, most effective ways to determine which applicants can be trusted with the health and safety of residents and which cannot,” said Donald M. Berwick, M.D., CMS administrator. Created by the Affordable Care Act, the new National Background Check Program will help identify “best practices” for long-term care providers to determine whether a job seeker has any kind of criminal history or other disqualifying information that could make him or her unsuitable to work directly with residents.
The national background check for each prospective direct patient care employee must include a criminal history search of both state and federal abuse and neglect registries and databases, such as the Nurse Aide Registry or FBI files.
Long-term care facilities or providers covered under the new program include nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospice providers, long-term care hospitals, and intermediate care facilities for persons with mental retardation, and other entities that provide long-term care services.
Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts and the Healthy RI Task Force released a set of recommendations in the task force report, "Getting National Health Reform Right for Rhode Island," on September 23, 2010, exactly six months from the signing date of the national health reform law. Participants on the task force include representatives from health centers, hospitals, physician groups, government agencies, business groups, patient advocacy groups and others in the state's health care community.
Questions about the National Background Check Program may be sent via e-mail to: Background_Checks@cms.hhs.gov.