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Kohl Long Term Care Background Check Provision Included in Elder Justice Act

Location: Washington, DC


Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) today announced he has joined a bi-partisan group of Senators as one of the lead sponsors of the Elder Justice Act. Included in the bill is a Kohl provision requiring mandatory criminal background checks for potential long term care employees, including nursing home and home health workers. This provision extends an existing pilot program, modeled after Kohl's Patient Abuse Prevention Act, that was included in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.

"This legislation asks the Congress to make the prevention of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation a top priority - and to make it just as important as preventing child abuse and domestic violence," said Kohl. "As part of that effort, I am pleased that it includes the important priority of screening potential nursing home and home health workers and weeding out those with abusive and criminal backgrounds. While the vast majority of workers are dedicated and professional, it only takes a few abusive staff to threaten patient safety and peace of mind."

The Elder Justice Act is designed to create a national focus on elder abuse in order to increase detection, prevention, prosecution and victim assistance. The measure ensures that states, communities, consumers and families will have access to the information and resources they need to confront this difficult issue.

Kohl's background check provision mandates a national criminal background check system for nursing home, home health and other long-term care employees. Currently, seven states, including Wisconsin, are engaged in the pilot project to require FBI criminal background checks before hiring a new employee with direct access to patients of long-term care facilities. Passage of the Elder Justice Act will ensure that once the pilot is over, a national criminal background check system will be implemented in all fifty states.

The Elder Justice Act is a bi-partisan measure sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

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