What You Need to Know About Background Checks for Caregivers

Home health aides (HHAs) are not required to do caregiver background checks under federal law, but those who apply for Medicaid or Medicare funding are obligated to comply with the laws of their states governing this type of screening.

Aides typically need to be licensed by the state. To get a license, an aide must comply with the standards the state department of health has set. Here’s what you need to know and what might show up on your prospective caregiver’s background report.

Impact of the National Background Check Program

President Barack Obama established the National Background Check Program (NBCP) within the framework of his Affordable Care Act. This program allocates grants to states with the purpose of creating a regulated, uniform system to conduct in-depth, complex background checks of care providers based on fingerprints. Specifically, this affects caregivers who will be in direct contact with care recipients.

Not all states choose to participate in the NBCP. Those that do must obligate caregivers to undergo specific types of background checks, which we’ll go into shortly. Even if a given state doesn’t require a check, aides who want to get federal funding have to carry them out.

Fingerprint Search

The first check involves a search of FBI and state databases for criminal history and is fingerprint-based. The federal search will reveal all crimes reported to the FBI, including all those on the federal as well as the state level. These might include Medicaid fraud, Medicare fraud, felony convictions for financial misconduct such as theft or fraud related to healthcare, and illegal production, dispensing, prescription, or distribution of controlled substances.

Abuse and Neglect Registry Search

This search will cover the LEIE (List of Excluded Individuals and Entities) of the OIG (Office of Inspector General), a federal body. This list includes people who aren’t allowed to work in healthcare due to having committed certain felonies or misdemeanors, patient neglect or abuse, Medicare or Medicaid fraud, and other violations. Any convictions or license revocation, suspension, or surrender will also bar them from working.

The search includes all relevant registries in the state or states where the person has worked as a caregiver.

Performing Background Checks on Caregivers

Hiring a background check service to perform the check will make the process easier, helping health aides comply with regulations. Of course, this isn’t to say an aide can’t run the check themselves. If they choose to use a consumer reporting agency (CRA), they should take the following steps.

Collect Information

It starts with gathering data from the job candidate, such as their Social Security number, date of birth, full name, and address. The agency needs all of this information to conduct a background check. Any professional licenses or degrees and the driver’s license number might be required depending on the position.

Using a background check company will guarantee your screening process complies with all pertinent laws and regulations, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which governs and regulates the entire background check industry. A reliable screening service will take care to inform candidate caregivers that they will be screened, which they are required to do by law.

Candidates will get an official disclosure form and will be asked for permission to run the background check. They will also be assured that the formal adverse action process will apply if the employer decides not to hire them based on the findings of the screening. In addition, your background check company will know your state’s specific requirements and fair hiring laws.

It’s always best practice to partner with a company that holds Professional Background Screeners Association (PBSA) accreditation. No other institution accredits consumer reporting agencies in the US.

Review Findings

The second step is to review the findings in the background check report. You may decide to reject a candidate based on a license suspension, OIG sanctions, drug use, or certain felonies. The laws defining the violations, which can exclude a candidate from consideration, differ from state to state. Make sure you adhere to adverse action provisions if you are basing your final decision on information a background check has revealed.

Best Practices

In sum, it’s best practice to conduct education and employment verification to make sure your applicant has been honest and possesses the skills, education, and experience necessary to do the job well. It’s a good idea to check driving records too.

Most caregiver positions require people to run errands and transport care recipients. Checking motor vehicle records is advisable in order to detect possible license suspensions, moving violations, or DUIs. This check will also confirm the validity of the license.

Finally, you might choose to screen for the presence of drugs. It’s best to do this after extending a job offer.

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