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Rubio, Rosen Introduce Bill to Promote Responsible Hiring Practices and Prevent Elder Abuse

Jun 28, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced the Promote Responsible Oversight and Targeted Employee Background Check Transparency for Seniors (PROTECTS) Act (S. 2214), to protect seniors by ensuring that organizations that serve senior citizens, like nursing homes or home health agencies, are able to avoid hiring practitioners with a history of elder abuse.

“We must do all we can to protect our nation’s senior citizens, especially those who rely on long-term care services,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which would allow senior care providers access to the National Practitioner Data Bank in order to screen potential hires and avoid hiring individuals with a known record of abuse to care for senior citizens.”

“Ensuring the care of our nation’s seniors is one of the greatest responsibilities we have as Americans, and that includes making sure that our nursing homes and other senior care facilities have the most qualified staff possible,” Rosen said. “This bipartisan bill takes an important step to protect seniors and help simplify the hiring process by giving nursing homes and other senior care providers another tool to more easily screen potential employees through the National Practitioner Data Bank, a system used by our nation’s hospitals.”

The national 3000-member Elder Justice Coalition (EJC) praised the introduction of the PROTECTS Act and commended its sponsor, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). “This bill is an essential first step in what must be a concerted national commitment to protect residents of long-term care facilities from harm from unqualified persons who work there,” EJC National Coordinator Bob Blancato said. “We hope this measure can move quickly through Congress as part of comprehensive nursing home reform which is so urgently needed, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“On behalf of the more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, we are grateful to Senators Rubio and Rosen for their leadership, introducing the PROTECTS Act. This important bipartisan legislation will help protect older Americans from abuse and exploitation, an all too common occurrence for this vulnerable population,” said Robert Egge, Chief Public Policy Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association and Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement. 

“We greatly appreciate Senators Rubio and Rosen for introducing the PROTECTS Act,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA/NCAL’s President & CEO, said. “Long term care providers have been calling for access to the National Practitioner Data Bank for years, so they can have an immediate method to conduct thorough background checks on health care workers before hiring them. Our nation’s seniors residing in nursing homes and other long term care facilities deserve to have dedicated and qualified caregivers providing them the utmost care, and this legislation will help streamline that process.” 

Support: This bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the Elder Justice Coalition, Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, the American Health Care Association, and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.  

Additional Background: The NPDB includes a record of malpractice settlements and adverse actions in a health professionals history. While hospitals can easily access the data bank, there are limits on which types of organizations are eligible to view the data. This oversight precludes senior care providers, like nursing homes and home health agencies, from easily accessing the NPDB. While there is a formal peer review process that would allow those entities to qualify as a healthcare entity, many facilities that could benefit from NPDB access lack the structure to facilitate that process. 

Access to the NPDB and the ability to quickly screen prospective hires is especially important as those entities work to address significant staffing shortages