Gardner, Gillibrand Bill Improves Senior Care Hiring Practices
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are leading the Promote Responsible Oversight & Targeted Employee background Check Transparency for Seniors (PROTECTS) Act to expand access to the National Practitioner Data Bank to ensure health care organizations that serve seniors are able to make better informed hiring decisions.
“Colorado has one of the fastest growing populations of seniors over 85 who could benefit from long term care,” said Senator Gardner. “As the demand for home health care and nursing home services grows, it is critically important that these agencies have all of the tools they need to verify potential new hires don’t have a history of medical malpractice in another state. This legislation will ensure Coloradans have information to make informed hiring decisions, and protect our seniors from bad actors.”
“Patients should be able to trust that their doctors and nurses are safe and professional. Health care providers can help ensure this by using the National Practitioner Data Bank to conduct background checks on potential hires to verify that they do not have a history of malpractice,” said Senator Gillibrand. “However, this database is currently inaccessible to some Medicare and Medicaid providers, potentially putting the health of older adults and long-term care patients across the country at risk. Congress should be doing everything it can to protect older adults and patients from abuse, and that’s why I’m introducing new legislation with Senator Gardner to help expand access to the National Practitioner Data Bank for Medicare and Medicaid providers. I urge my colleagues to join us and support this bill.”
“The Home Care Association of Colorado strongly supports home-health and home-care agency access to the National Practitioner Data Bank, and we thank Sen. Gardner for carrying this important legislation. It’s critical that agencies have information that enables them to make key recruitment decisions. All of us share the goal of seeing that patients and their families receive the highest level of care from fully trained and professional caregivers,” said Don Knox, Home Care Association of Colorado Executive Director.
"We fully support the PROTECTS Act and thank Senator Gardner for introducing it. Access to this data bank would be a significant step toward helping long term care providers more effectively and efficiently screen potential employees for histories of disciplinary problems from all 50 state licensing boards and any prior terminations for abuse,” said Dr. David Gifford, Chief Medical Officer and SVP for Quality and Regulatory Affairs at American Health Care Association.
Under current law, a web-based repository known as the National Practitioner Data Bank allows hospitals, doctors and health plans to screen prospective hires’ backgrounds to determine if candidates have a history of malpractice or of issues with another state’s licensing board. This database, however, does not allow other types of providers, like nursing homes and home health agencies, easy access to access that critical data. This breakdown in data sharing makes it easier for health care professionals with poor medical malpractice records to cross state lines and find new work without detection, putting our loved ones at risk.
Senator Gardner and Gillibrand’s legislation will expand access to the National Practitioner Data Bank to ensure any health care provider that is able to bill Medicare or Medicaid can use the data bank to check the clinical history of registered nurses, certified nurse assistants, home health aides, pharmacists, physicians, physical therapists and social workers that may be potentially hired.
This legislation is also endorsed by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
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