OIG: Home Health Agencies need more consistent background checks

The OIG released a new report, “Home Health Agencies Conducted Background Checks of Varying Types,” which reviewed the types and amount of background checks performed by Home Health Agencies on their employees. Since there are no Federal regulations that require HHAs to conduct a background check before hiring (or periodically after hiring), or prevent HHAs from hiring individuals convicted of certain crimes, the OIG analyzed whether convicted individuals had been hired to work in HHAs.

The sample used for this study consisted of 99 HHAs out of more than 12,000 Medicare-certified HHAs. The criminal history that it reviewed were crimes against property and crimes against persons to look for offenses such a theft or abuse, both of which could be issues in home care. The study found that:

  • All reviewed HHAs conducted some form of background check on prospective employees. These background checks considered of either a Federal criminal background check or a state-conducted one. Nearly 60% conducted a periodic background check after an employee had been hired. A small percentage of the sample terminated an employee after the periodic background check came back. (11%).
  • Over half of convictions found had occurred at least five years prior to employment at the HHA. Convictions included credit card fraud, identity theft and stealing

As a result of these findings, the OIG recommended to CMS that it promote the use of minimum standards for background checks. The variation in State requirements for checks has resulted in varying types of individuals providing unsupervised care to patients, which could cause potential issues. CMS commented that it encourages the use of the National Background Check Program and has a grant program in place for States that participate in the program.

Read the full report on the OIG website.

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