Two bills, the Elder Justice Act, S. 1070 and the Patient Safety and Abuse Act, S. 1577, passed the Senate committee charged with passing on the bills to the full Senate. The House committees had previously advanced the bills.

The Elder Justice Act would make $777 million in federal money available to government agencies and community programs that handle elder-abuse issues, establish a program to improve forensic investigation of crimes involving elder abuse, and impose stricter requirements for reporting criminal violations by long-term-care facilities and their staffs. The bill also would create a council to coordinate the response of federal, state and local agencies to incidents of elder abuse and an advisory board composed of experts to develop a multidisciplinary plan to prevent crime against the elderly.

The Patient Safety and Abuse Act sets up a nationwide data base for background checks on staff employed in the Nursing Home industry. The new nationwide system would coordinate abuse-and-neglect registries and law enforcement records from each state with the FBI’s national database of criminal history records. If the bill is adopted, a nursing facility must conduct background checks of all applicants for positions with direct access to patients before hiring them. Nursing facilities that fail to conduct the screening or knowingly employ a disqualified person in a direct-care position would face penalties, including exclusion from participation in the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.
With thanks to Andrews Nursing Home Reporter