October 22, 2019

In Wake Of Recent Reports Of Abuse In Nursing Homes, Gillibrand Announces New, Bipartisan Legislation To Help Protect Older Adults In Skilled Nursing Facilities And Improve Health Care Worker Hiring Practices

Legislation Would Help Long-Term Care Providers, Like Nursing Homes, Use National Data to Conduct Background Screenings on Potential Employees

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced new, bipartisan legislation that would help protect older adults and long-term care patients from abuse by improving health care worker hiring practices. The Promote Responsible Oversight & Targeted Employee background Check Transparency for Seniors (PROTECTS) Act would help expand access to the National Practitioner Data Bank for Medicare and Medicaid providers to conduct background screenings on potential employees. Currently, New York has over 269,000 older adults in long-term care facilities.

Health care providers use the National Practitioner Data Bank to screen potential hires to verify that they do not have a history of malpractice. This database is currently inaccessible to some Medicare and Medicaid providers, potentially putting the health of older adults and long-term care patients in New York and across the country at risk. The PROTECTS Act would give all qualifying long-term care providers access to the database and help make background screenings cheaper to conduct and more comprehensive, allowing Medicare and Medicaid providers to hire more qualified and professional staff. 

“Families need to trust that when a loved one is living in a long-term care facility, they will be safe and cared for professionally. Unfortunately, there have been far too many reports of abuse in these facilities, and this is unacceptable,” said Senator Gillibrand, member of the Special Committee on Aging. “One way we can help protect our loved ones is by expanding access to the National Practitioner Data Bank. This system allows hospitals, medical boards, and law firms to screen health professionals for a history of malpractice, but long-term care facilities are not allowed to use this important tool. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan PROTECTS Act, which would change these rules and ensure that long-term care facilities can access critical information. We must do more to protect our vulnerable older adults and long-term care patients in New York, and I urge my colleagues to join me and support this bill.”

"The PROTECTS Act is important for long term care residents, families and providers. We thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this bill. Access to the National Practitioner Data Bank is 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, Geriatrician and SVP of Quality and Regulatory Affairs, American Health Care Association.

The full bill text may be found here. The PROTECTS Act has been endorsed by the American Health Care Association and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.