Two bills introduced in the Kentucky legislature during the most recent session are aimed at protecting nursing home residents by improving nursing homes’ abilities to screen potential employees. However, both bills failed to pass through the legislature, a fact that concerns nursing home injury attorneys, as it reduces the resources available to fight nursing home abuse and neglect.
The first bill, House Bill 73, ensures continued funding for a background-check program that is already in place. Currently, Kentucky has a fingerprint-based background check requirement for job candidates seeking to work with nursing home residents. Through June 30, 2014, the program will be funded by a $3 million federal grant and $1 million in state funds. Without the additional funding sought by House Bill 73, however, the program will fall by the wayside.
House Bill 73 was passed by a full vote of the Kentucky House, but it was never heard by a Senate committee or brought to the Senate floor for a vote. However, the legislature will have a chance in the next session to pass a bill that continues funding the fingerprint background check program before its funding runs out.
The second bill, House Bill 367, would have created a registry that lists nursing home workers involved in substantiated cases of abuse or neglect. Currently, Kentucky has such a registry for people who work with children, but the state does not have one for those who work with the elderly, including nursing home workers. House Bill 367 had a companion bill in the Senate. However, both bills failed to pass for the fourth consecutive year.