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AG Kilmartin Urges Passage of National Background Check Legislation or Risk Losing $1.3 Million in Federal Funds

Citing the need to protect our elderly and the potential loss of $1.3 million in federal funds to implement a criminal records check program for all those who provide direct patient access services in the long term care field, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin drafted enabling legislation to establish the procedural requirements to implement the program. The legislation, H5539/S0458, was introduced at the request of Attorney General Kilmartin by Representative Eileen Naughton and Senator Michael McCaffrey, and id scheduled to be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

In 2010, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and the Office of Attorney General applied for and received the $1.3 million grant to implement the national criminal records check program. The Grant monies were added to the Attorney General's budget in the State's FY12 enacted budget although the General Assembly failed to pass enabling legislation. The Attorney General sought, and received a one-year extension, but the State only has one more legislative session to enact the enabling legislation and implement the program or will lose the federal grant monies and will have to fund the program with state dollars.

"This legislation would be a valuable resource towards the safety of our long term care consumers by establishing a system of knowing who is working with our most vulnerable populations, and at no cost to state taxpayers," said Attorney General Kilmartin.

Section 6201 of the Affordable Care Act of 2012 provided for a Nationwide Program for National and State Background Checks on Direct Patient Access Employees of Long Term Care Facilities and Providers. The intent of the program was to establish a program to identify efficient, effective and economical procedures for long term care facilities or providers to conduct national background checks (FBI Fingerprint Based) on perspective direct patient access employees.

The grant mandates that long term care facilities and providers require a national background check of prospective employees and utilize a search of the state abuse and neglect registry (including the State of prior residence); the State must develop a "Rap-Back" program; and the national background check must remain valid for a certain amount of time.

Kilmartin's legislation requires, as of July 1, 2013, a national criminal records check for all persons applying to be a routine contact employee in a long term care facility or provider, including, but not limited to, those facilities licensed under chapters 23-1-52 ("Adult Day Care Programs"), 23-17-34 ("Nursing Facilities, Home Nursing Care Providers, Hospice Providers and Home Care Providers"), 23-17-60 ("Long Term Care Hospital"), 23-17.4-27 ("Assisted Living Residences"), and 23-17.7.1-17 ("Nursing Service Agencies").

Currently, state only background checks are required for those employed in Nursing Facilities, Home Nursing Care Providers, Hospice Providers, Home Care Providers, Assisted Living Residences and Nursing Service Agencies. There are no statutory background check requirements for those employed in Adult Day Care Programs and Long Term Care Hospitals. This new requirement would only apply to those who are seeking new employment after July 1, 2013.

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