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AHCA Backs Senator Kohl’s Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007; Legislation Will Cost-Effectively, Fairly Screen Prospective Employees

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) today endorsed Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 1577) introduced by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI). AHCA President and CEO Bruce Yarwood noted that AHCA has long been a supporter of efforts to conduct effective and fair criminal history background checks on potential nursing home employees, saying the bill merits strong, bipartisan support in Congress. “AHCA’s entire mission and focus is to ensure America’s long term care facilities provide quality, compassionate care in a safe and secure environment for seniors and persons with disabilities – and we appreciate and support the approach put forward by Senator Kohl’s legislation,” stated Yarwood. “Ensuring that the most capable, honest employees are the ones caring for America’s seniors is the most fundamental criterion for the provision of quality care.” Yarwood said AHCA agrees with Senator Kohl’s view that “the vast majority of long-term care workers are selfless and dedicated,” and that “under the disorganized, patchwork system of background checks that exists today, employers trying to hire caregivers do not always know which applicants have records of abuse or a history of committing violent crimes.” Specifically, the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007 would build upon the success of the provisions enacted as part of the Medicare Modernization Act, which created a three-year pilot program to examine ways in which states can implement systems to cost-effectively screen applicants for employment in long-term care facilities. Yarwood noted that because Medicaid and Medicare finance approximately 80% of all nursing home care, “We appreciate the requirement in S. 1577 that such background checks be reimbursed by the Medicare and/or Medicare programs.” Historically, commented the AHCA President and CEO, AHCA has been a leader in the effort to establish a national background check system for applicants seeking employment in nursing homes. AHCA and the National Association of Attorneys General, for example, have previously collaborated to address the development and implementation of such a system. “AHCA applauds and recognizes the ongoing work of Senator Kohl and his colleagues when it comes to taking a leadership role on seniors’ issues,” concluded Yarwood. “We look forward to continuing our work with Congress and the Bush Administration to ensure our seniors and disabled citizens receive the quality care they need, deserve and expect in a safe and secure setting.”

June 17, 2007

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