Last year, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service (CMS) finalized
a new rule that bans nursing homes from forcing patients and their families
into private arbitration. These mandatory arbitration clauses were hidden
in the contract’s fine print, and many families were unaware of
the term or misunderstood what private arbitration entailed. This type
of arbitration is a practice that keeps any potential nursing home abuse
charges out of the public court system, which weakens a patients’
On June 5, 2017, CMS released another proposed rule that would almost entirely
do away with the ban on mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home
contracts. These supposed changes are to “strengthen” the
transparency in the arbitration process. However, consumer advocates quickly
condemned the change with the Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) Coalition arguing
the reversal will hurt nursing home residents, who are at the most vulnerable
time in their lives.
This almost complete 360-degree turn is largely the result of the change
in power this January. The current presidential administration will be
forcing seniors to sign contract terms that negate their right to sue
the court if they are victimized by neglect or abuse.
The old rule, proposed in 2015, wanted to bar nursing homes from using
forced arbitration clauses but allowed facilities and consumers to enter
into voluntary arbitration agreements if they wished to. It also only
applied to new contracts. However, the nursing home and healthcare industry
fought the rule. A Mississippi judge issued a preliminary injunction in
favor of nursing homes, and the rule has been stalled in court ever since.
This new rule removes the ban completely and only makes a provision that
says the arbitration clause must be in “plain language” and
must be explained. Patients must also acknowledge they understand the policy.
CMS will be accepting public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days
after it appears in the Federal Register. If you disagree with this potential
for elder abuse, speak out now before the 60 days are up. For more information
about how this law could affect you or your loved ones, or if you would
like to begin a case, talk to our
skilled Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorneys. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us by filling out our online form to get in touch.