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’ legal leverage.
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.