New Rule Prohibits Nursing Homes from Resolving Disputes Via Forced Arbitration

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Oct 05, 2016 in Nursing Home Injury or Death

nursing resident talking to doctorIn the largest regulatory overhaul in two decades, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a new rule last month banning federally-funded nursing homes from using forced arbitration agreements to resolve disputes with residents.

Forced arbitration agreements prohibit nursing home residents or their families from taking facilities to court to resolve complaints about care, including abuse, neglect, harassment and even wrongful death.

Arbitration also keeps complaints about nursing homes out of the public record because residents who sign these agreements must resolve their complaints in a private proceeding with an arbitrator.

A yearlong investigation by The New York Times found that these proceedings often favor the nursing home, as arbitrators are often hired by the nursing home in question.

These agreements are also problematic because residents may feel pressured into signing them, as they are sometimes a condition for admission to a facility.  

The new rule applies only to facilities that receive funding from Medicaid or Medicare and will affect approximately 1.5 million nursing home residents. The rule will take effect in phases, with the first phase beginning on Nov. 28.

While families and safety advocate groups are pleased with the regulatory change, the nursing home industry is not. Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive of the American Health Care Association, stated the arbitration change was unnecessary and exceeds the federal agency’s authority.

The nursing home industry has also pointed out that allowing lawsuits will drive up the cost of care for nursing home residents and possibly force some facilities to shut down.

However, government officials in 16 states lobbied against forced arbitration agreements, viewing them as a way for large corporations to maintain secrecy regarding nursing home abuse.  

The nursing home abuse attorneys at Stewart Bell, PLLC are pleased with this change as it restores the right of many nursing home residents to have their day in court if they suffer abuse or neglect.

If your loved one was abused or neglected in a nursing home, our skilled attorneys will inform you of your legal options via a free consultation.

Contact us today by calling 304-345-1700.

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