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Kentucky to Pursue Mandatory National Background Checks for Long-Term Care Workers

October 17, 2013

Kentucky’s new, voluntary state and national criminal background check program for workers seeking employment in a long-term care setting could become a mandatory program, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

In January, Governor Steven Beshear‘s (D) administration plans to ask state legislators to pass a bill to make pre-employment fingerprint-supported state and FBI background checks through the Kentucky Applicant Registry and Employment Screening Program (KARES) a requirement to work in long-term care.

The KARES program is intended to help reduce the potential for abuse, neglect, or exploitation — including financial exploitation — of elderly and vulnerable adults, its website states.

Bernie Vonderheide, Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform president and founder, cautions that unless the KARES program is mandatory it will not work, the Leader reports.

James Aneszko, senior vice president of Home Instead Senior Care, disagrees, saying that “making the program mandatory would present an economic hardship on consumers and make it more difficult for long-term care facilities and programs to find help.”

In late August, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) launched a website for the KARES program, which providers are encouraged to use to supplement the required name-based state checks.

Long-term care employers can send prospective employees to fingerprint collection sites, which are listed on the website and use the information for a comprehensive state and national criminal background check.

KARES is expected to be rolled out in November, following a statewide effort to educate providers and the public about the program.

Kentucky is one of 24 states that received a National Background Check Program grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to establish a multi-state background check through fingerprinting collection sites. The cost to participating employers for background checks is $20 until the grant funds are depleted.

— by Deane Beebe

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