There are more than 2 million cases of elder abuse every year, and those are only the cases that are reported. One out of every 10 people will experience some form of elder abuse. Because families often don’t have the time or resources to devote to the full-time care that seniors sometimes need, they depend on skilled nursing facilities to provide help where they can’t. When skilled nursing facilities care for elderly people, they and their friends and relatives are placing their trust in these businesses. When that trust is broken, it is usually the result of negligence or outright abuse of the elderly person.
Because the senior population has started to grow as more baby boomers continue to age, big corporations have taken to buying or starting skilled nursing facilities. Around 70% of all skilled nursing facilities are run by for-profit companies, and some of them are being purchased by Wall Street investment firms. Unsurprisingly, the new administration has taken note of another way it can assist hedge funds and banks.
In 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enacted a policy that said nursing homes would no longer receive federal funding if they used forced arbitration clauses in their contracts. Forced arbitration clauses are contract terms preventing people from suing a facility, no matter what laws it breaks. Anyone harmed by illegal acts in these institutions can only bring cases to private arbitrators, who are generally beholden to the nursing homes or the corporations that own them.
Now, the current administration is proposing to lift the ban on forced arbitration clauses. Now, if a nursing home abuses a senior, the family can use the public court system to seek justice. If the ban is lifted, nursing homes benefit from the secretive system of arbitration, which isn’t open to the public, press, or regulators. It also allows gag orders in the form of confidentiality provisions, allowing them to hide their crimes easily.