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New Long-Term Care Criminal History and Patient Abuse Background Search Program Implemented for Connecticut Home Health Agencies

By Michael Klazema on 3/11/2016

Home health agencies in Connecticut are now subject to Connecticut’s long-term care facility law. Subsection (g) of section 19a-491c allowed the Department of Public Health (DPH) to phase in some requirements, including the criminal history and patient abuse background program for home health agencies.

DPH has established a web-based program referred to as the Applicant Background Check Management Services (ABCMS). ABCMS provides long-term facilities and providers with a web portal to submit applicants, conduct registry checks, and process and track fingerprint-based criminal history record checks prior to extending an offer of employment, as required under the law. Long-term facilities subject to the background check program must register with the ABCMS.

Under the law, background checks are required only for prospective employees, contractors, and certain volunteers who have “direct access” and provide “long-term care services” to patients or residents.

“Direct access” means physical access to a patient or resident in a long-term care facility that afford an individual with the opportunity to commit abuse or neglect against or misappropriate the property of a patient or resident. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 19a-491c(a)(2).

The DPH interprets “Long-term care services” to mean the provision of supportive or health services to a patient or resident of a long-term care facility. This interpretation is consistent with the definition of “long-term care” found in federal law.

Volunteers are only subject to the required background search when the long-term care facility reasonably expects that the volunteer will regularly perform duties that are substantially similar to those of an employee with direct access in the provision of long-term care services. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 19a-491c(c)(1).

When it comes to disqualifying an applicant, it can only be done by the DPH ABCMS program staff and not the long-term care facility. Here are the disqualifying offenses, described in 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7(a)(1), (2), (3) or (4), e.g.:

1.    Conviction of program-related crimes – any criminal offense related to the delivery of an item or service under Medicare or a State health care program(State health care programs include Medicaid, the Title V Federal maternal and child health block grant, Title XX Federal social services block grants, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program);

2.    Conviction related to patient abuse – any criminal offense under Federal or State law relating to neglect or abuse of patients in connection with the delivery of a health care item or service;

3.    Felony conviction relating to health care fraud – any felony offense relating to fraud, theft, embezzlement, breach of fiduciary responsibility, or other financial misconduct in connection with the delivery of a health care item or service or with respect to any act or omission in a health care program operated by or financed in whole or in part by any Federal, State, or local government agency, if the offense occurred after August 11, 1996; and

4.    Felony conviction relating to a controlled substance – any felony offense under Federal or State law relating to the unlawful manufacture, distribution, prescription, or dispensing of a controlled substance, if the offense occurred after August 11, 1996.

Additionally, applicants are ineligible for employment under the law if the applicant is subject to a substantiated finding of neglect, abuse, or misappropriation of property by a state or federal agency pursuant to an investigation conducted in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1395i-3(g)(1)(C) or 42 U.S.C. § 1696r(g)(1)(C). See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 19a-491c(a)(3).

What This Means to You

  • This update applies to you if you are a home health agency in Connecticut.
  • Connecticut’s long-term care facilities subject to the background check program must register with the ABCMS.
  • The facility’s prospective employees, contractors, and certain volunteers who have direct access and provides long-term services to residents must undergo the ABCMS which consist of fingerprint-based criminal history record checks.
  • Only the DPH ABCMS program staff can disqualify an applicant.

For more information about ABCMS, here is the link to the DPH Frequent Asked Questions page: http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/abcms/frequently_asked_questions.pdf

For the DPH main page regarding ABCMS, click this link: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?A=4446&Q=521736

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