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People With 'Criminal Issues' Often Considered For Arizona Nursing Home Licenses

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Monday, May 24, 2021 - 8:56am
Updated: Monday, May 24, 2021 - 9:07am

Earlier this month, Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill that would have allowed the Arizona board that oversees licenses for nursing home and assisted living administrators to operate for eight more years. The reason: An investigation by the Arizona Republic found the board gave a license to run a nursing home to a man with two felony fraud convictions. 

But the Arizona’s Board of Examiners of Nursing Care Institution Administrators and Assisted Living Facility Managers has often considered applicants with “criminal issues.”

A look at the board’s JanuaryFebruary and March 2020 minutes shows applicants with “criminal issues” or a criminal history. One applicant, for example, failed to disclose a criminal conviction. Even more recently, minutes from January and February 2021 show applicants with criminal issues.

"Perception wise, it's valid and logical that maybe someone would be denied a license on that basis," said Randy Lindner, the president and CEO of the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards in Washington, D.C. 

"However, there have been a number of cases in recent years where courts have overturned decisions by the board and have said that a felony is not a basis for denial of a license. And that the licensing agency or board has to demonstrate that the the felony is somehow related to the competencies of the profession."

While you can't deny the risk, he said, should a board deny a person the chance to work in their chosen profession if they’ve taken all the steps to remedy the situation?

"At least in my judgment, there should be a better process for vetting individuals who are going to be given a license to provide health care," said John Michaels, an attorney in Phoenix with expertise in medical malpractice. "And there should be a better process for monitoring and overseeing those folks over the course of years."

Because as far as he knows, there is no absolute rule preventing an individual with a criminal record from getting a license and running a nursing home. That goes for doctors, he said.

"There are physicians who continue to be licensed even though they have a criminal record. It obviously depends upon the criminal record."

So it's up to these licensing boards to make good decisions, he said. 

"And unfortunately, licensing boards don't always make good decisions."

In the meantime, Duecy wants the Legislature to transfer the board’s responsibility to the state health department. 

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