Friday, November 6, 2009

Health Reform to Spend $160 million on LTC Background Checks

Section 1909 of the House health reform bill includes money for background checks on direct patient access employees of long term care providers. Uncle Sam will pick up the tab for such checks, up to $160 million between 2010 and 2012.

Oddly, President Bill Clinton spun off USIS, the security checking arm of the federal government. The Carlyle Group, a private equity underwriter (PEU), later flipped USIS for big profits. The politically connected PEU stands to benefit from the House of Representative's largess. Carlyle owns ManorCare, a long term care company, and LifeCare, a long term acute hospital firm. Both qualify for employee background checks under the new bill.

An online search showed background checks vary in price and thoroughness. The cheapie runs $20, while the premium package reaches $200. The bill speaks to costs borne by state and federal governments. It makes no mention of payments by long term care employers for background checks.

The bill requires fingerprint ID checks. It states:

including a fingerprint check using the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That will require a mechanism to obtain and submit fingerprints for evaluation. Might Carlyle Group affiliate AuthenTec have that covered?

Of course it is important to have a good system for background checks. However, users should pay. Uncle Sam's providing start up capital, financing, money for worker training, funds for R & D, and targeted tax breaks for private firms is disturbing enough. How long before this new long term care background check system is spun off like USIS? It seems PEU's win, no matter what.