NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Home Health Care Workers Escaping Background Checks

June 5, 2014

In at least 10 states, home health care workers can avoid background checks, reports the Washington Times.

According to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, convicts can become home care providers in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. While 40 states have some level of background checks, 10 do not, and there are no federal requirements for home health agencies (HHAs) to conduct background investigations.

Home health care workers are an increasingly important part of care for the elderly. As beneficiaries receive care in their homes, unsupervised, concerns have emerged that they could be at risk of mistreatment. In 2012, HHAs provided home care services to 3.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, with Medicare paying $18.5 billion for the services.

Of the 40 states with some background-related requirement, only 15 require the employing agency to receive and confirm the results before an individual begins working with at-home patients. Indiana, for example, requires a background check to be completed within 21 days of a hire.

Sixteen states allow those who are denied HHA employment due to a problem with their background check to have their convictions waived, depending upon the circumstances.

Source: Kellan Howell, "Watchdog finds home health care providers could have criminal records," Washington Times, June 1, 2014.


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