On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved two bills which will help prevent neglect and abuse of elderly persons.
A frequent source of abuse are caregivers who are repeat violent offenders. A bill (S 1577), sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), would create a nationwide background check system to screen long-term care employees for a history of abuse or a violent criminal record prior to hiring.
A seven-state pilot program established under the 2003 Medicare law already exists and would be expanded by this bill. The bill would provide as much as $160 million in grants over three years to states which seek to participate in the program. This law would help keep violent offenders from working in nursing homes with particularly vulnerable elderly patients.
The secdon bill (S 1070), sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would create state and local training and assistance programs for long-term care employees. The legislation would also establish a database used to identify and track elder abuse cases.