A new policy proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would take away the rights of residents when it comes to settling nursing home disputes between residents and their families and the nursing home companies. Under the Obama Administration, the CMS enacted a ban on federal funding for any nursing home that forced residents to sign an arbitration agreement as a requisite for admittance. While the ban never went into effect because it was under litigation, the CMS’ proposed action will keep it from ever doing so, forcing arbitration on residents.
According to the American Health Care Association, which represents the interests of long term care providers, arbitration is a faster and cheaper alternative to the use of courts for settling these nursing home disputes. However, many residents and their families feel forced into the arbitration agreements, and are not always aware of what it is they are signing.
This news comes two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Kentucky nursing home, ruling that the arbitration agreements that the families of the residents signed were binding. The case started when the relatives of two deceased nursing home residents tried to sue the nursing home for substandard care, but the defendant moved to have the suits dismissed, citing the arbitration agreements.
While the proposal does include provisions that the agreements be free of legal jargon and that a representative of the nursing home explain what the resident is signing, this decision would still be a major win for the nursing home industry.
For the millions of residents and their families who rely on the long term care that nursing homes provide, this proposal would take away their right to a day in court, a key proponent in ensuring that they receive the highest quality care.
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