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Home-Aid Workers To Undergo Background Checks

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Background checks coming for home-aid workers, state can't exclude all felons

Michigan cannot ban all felons from being caregivers in the state's Medicaid in-home care program. That's according to state officials who outlined an upcoming background check system on Monday.

People convicted of patient abuse or neglect, health care fraud, or drug-related crimes will be barred from working with in-home Medicaid patients. But state officials say federal law prevents them from excluding people based on crimes that are not related to in-home care.

Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Director Jim Haveman says the state will still screen for violent crimes so patients can choose not to work with a caregiver.

"What's important is that they have the information," Haveman told reporters during a media roundtable Monday. "And then it's up to them to make that decision and to verify it with us, that they'll well aware of what decision they're making."

A recent state audit suggested MDCH and the Michigan Department of Human Services (MDHS) failed to protect patients in the program and misspent millions of dollars over three years. It showed the state allowed felons convicted of murder, assault, Medicaid fraud, and other crimes to work with Medicaid in-home patients.

"The bottom line is that we're taking steps to reinvent government," said MDHS Director Maura Corrigan. "We know that this takes time, but that our Michiganders deserve better and we are committed to making the changes needed to protect vulnerable adults."

MDCH Director Jim Haveman says the department hopes to begin conducting the new background checks on October 1st.