Alex Spanko is the Assistant Editor at Aging Media Network and covers the skilled nursing and reverse mortgage industries for Aging Media. He wrote an interesting article on Georgia’s new law on background checks for Skilled Nursing News. The new law will subject the owners and management to the same requirements as direct care caregivers and other employees who provide treatment and services to the residents. But the threshold for who qualifies as an owner remains unclear.
“Employees, owners, and administrators will be required to undergo fingerprint background checks starting October 1, 2019, according to an analysis of the law from the firm of Arnall Golden Gregory, LLP. That check involves a search of the FBI’s registry, and long-term care stakeholders will also be required to submit to a check of Georgia’s sex offender registry — as well as those of states where the applicant or potential owner lived in the previous two years.”
Unfortunately and bizarrely, who the nursing home designates as an owner, however, will be largely up to interpretation. The law exempts so-called “passive investors” who control the operations but do not admit to directly overseeing the operations at a facility. For example, an owner is defined as someone with a 10% or greater ownership stake who, among other things, “purports to or exercises authority of a facility,” has an office on site, can directly access the building, or who even agrees to buy a specific facility.
“Most surrounding states use the FBI’s fingerprint-based national background check to screen prospective employees seeking work at long-term care homes,” the government-sponsored group wrote in its report. “This ensures that applicants who are convicted of a crime that makes them ineligible to work in such homes do not move to an adjoining state and obtain employment in a facility.”
But Georgia only used a name-based system that searched for crimes that occurred within the state’s borders, a structure that concerned the members of the council — which include state lawmakers, judges, and the executive counsel to Gov. Nathan Deal.
“In 2017, the council learned that there are approximately 25,000 employees in more than 10 different facility categories that provide care for the elderly and are subject only to the name-based background check,” the members wrote.