Senator Marco Rubio has taken the initiative to reintroduce the “Promote Responsible Oversight and Targeted Employee Background Check Transparency for Seniors (PROTECTS) Act.” His primary objective is to safeguard seniors by implementing measures that protect them.
The measures would ensure that organizations, such as home health agencies and nursing homes, can effectively avoid hiring workers with a history of elder abuse. The Act aims to enhance oversight and transparency by enforcing targeted employee background checks. It would promote responsible practices in caring for seniors and protecting their well-being.
The Act’s Origins
In 2019, Senator Marco Rubio introduced the PROTECTS Act and referred it to the Senate Finance Committee. However, the entire Senate did not hear or consider it. As such, legislators considered it dead by December 31, 2020.
Despite this setback, some organizations working with seniors maintain hope for its success. The Act aims to expand access to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), which houses reports on medical malpractice and adverse actions concerning healthcare workers. However, the NPDB does not allow the general public to access this data.
Only authorized users, such as hospitals and other healthcare entities, can obtain this information. However, this restriction also affects Medicare and Medicaid providers, preventing them from accessing this information. As a result, providers such as home health aides face limitations when screening job applicants. These limitations make it challenging to protect seniors from workers that may have a history of elder abuse.
How It Works
The PROTECTS Act would change this. This Act would allow access to the National Practitioner Data Bank by senior care providers who receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid. This change enables these providers to screen job applicants more effectively, avoiding applicants with a record of abuse.
The Act would expand Title XIX of the Social Security Act. It would allow Medicare and Medicaid providers to access the NPDB when conducting employee background checks. According to the proposal, it would amend Section 1921(b)(6) of the Social Security Act (42 6 U.S.C. 1396r–2(b)(6)) in the following ways:
- Striking “health care entities (as defined in section 431 of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986)” out to insert “health care entities (as defined in section 431 of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act of 1986), providers of services (as defined in section 1861(u)), suppliers (as defined in section 1861(d)), and providers of items or services under a State plan under this title (or a waiver of such a plan)”; and
- Striking “such hospitals or other health care entities” and inserting “such hospitals, health care entities, providers, or suppliers.”
Passing the PROTECTS Act could improve senior care providers’ ability to protect those in their care. For example, it would strengthen their comprehensive background screenings, allowing providers to make more educated decisions. Facilities should partner with an experienced background check company regardless of whether it passes. The right partner can provide accurate and thorough background checks, detecting potential red flags in publicly accessible records.