Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Editorials

March 14, 2012

Costly move

Big price tag could kill background check bill

ASHLAND — A bill that would require criminal background checks for employees of long-term care facilities has been approved by the Kentucky House of Representatives and deserves the support of the Kentucky Senate. However, even if the bill becomes law, the cost of the background checks could threaten its future.

House Bill 25 would fingerprint prospective employees of long-term nursing homes as part of the background check and create a registry of people who are ineligible for employment at long-term care facilities based on criminal record checks.

The purpose of the bill is obvious and admirable. It is designed to protect the elderly and the disabled who, along with children, are among this state’s most vulnerable residents. Too often residents of long-term care facilities have been physically and emotionally abused by employees who would have never been hired if the long-term care facility had done a relatively simple criminal background check on them.

Initially, the cost of the background checks will be funded through a $3 million federal grant through the Affordable Care and Personal Responsibility Act, and a $1 million state grant. However, after two years, it would require a $60 to $80 fee from employers to fund it, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carl Rollins, a Midway Democrat.

The office of the inspector general would be notified if an employee commits a crime after the initial background check and would determine eligibility for employment.

The vast majority of employees of nursing homes are good well-trained individuals who provide excellent care and fellowship for residents on rather modest incomes. However, the homes also attract a few sick thugs and perverts who see the elderly and disabled as easy targets for horrid abuse. HB 25 will help keep such people from ever working at such facilities. That alone is reason enough to enact this bill.

Honest, hard-working employees of nursing homes should be among the strongest supporters of HB 25. After all, when a fellow employee is convicted of abusing an elderly patient, it tarnishes the reputation of all employees of that facility.

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