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 Warner, Scott Introduce Legislation to Aid Background Checks in Nursing Centers

Bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) aims to make it easier for senior living facilities to screen potential workers by providing operators with access to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

The bill, titled the Ensuring Seniors Access to Quality Care Act, would let nursing centers tap into the NPDB, an existing national criminal background check system, giving employers a heightened ability to screen and vet potential employees to ensure that caregivers do not have a history of behavior that could endanger the seniors under their care.

Currently, senior living facilities are not authorized to use the NPDB and instead must use state-level criminal background checks that often omit key details about an employee’s background.

Another section of the bill would amend “overly restrictive regulations” that bar certain senior living facilities from conducting training programs for in-house certified nurse assistants (CNAs) for a two-year period after a care facility is found to have deficiencies, such as poor conditions or patient safety violations.

Under existing regulations by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), senior living facilities that receive a civil monetary penalty (CMP) over $10,000 are automatically prohibited from conducting CNA staff training programs for a period of two years.

Specifically, the legislation would permit senior living facilities to reinstate its CNA training program if the facility has corrected the deficiency for which the CMP was assessed, the deficiency for which the CMP was assessed did not result in an immediate risk to patient safety and is not the result of patient harm resulting from abuse or neglect, and the facility has not received a repeat deficiency related to direct patient harm in the preceding two-year period.

In response to the legislation, Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, said the proposed legislation tackles two important areas.

First, it will help ensure that long term care providers have the ability to provide training programs for CNAs. Just as important, it will allow skilled nursing facilities access to the National Practitioner Data Bank, providing a better way to conduct background checks on potential employees,” he said.

Parkinson added that “we applaud Sen. Warner and Sen. Scott for taking this important step to address the worker recruitment and retention challenges facing providers.”

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