When a patient enters a long-term care facility, there are often long contracts with lots of legal clauses and terms that may not be readily understood by the patient and their families. Sometimes the need for immediate care is so acute that these contracts are just glanced over before they are signed. Most of these contracts contain something called an arbitration clause that can prevent a patient who has suffered abuse or neglect from going to court.
Last year, before they left office, the Obama Administration set into motion a law that would prevent nursing homes from having these clauses. As Time.com reports, the Trump Administration is set to overturn that law.
During the fall last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) authored a rule that prevented both assisted living facilities and nursing homes from forcing patients or their patients from entering into contracts that contained mandatory arbitration clauses. These clauses, often included in the paperwork signed when a patient is admitted, prevent the patient or their families from going to court should abuse or neglect occur. Instead, they must enter into private arbitration, which often favors the nursing home over the patient.
The rule, which called for transparency, was supposed to go into effect in November, bur has been challenged by the nursing home industry and is languishing in the legal system.
On Monday, June 5th, CMS released a proposed rule that basically rescinds the ban on the mandatory arbitration clauses. CMS said that “These proposed revisions would help strengthen transparency in the arbitration process, reduce unnecessary provider burden, and support residents’ rights to make informed decisions about important aspects of their health care.”
Advocates for the elderly quickly condemned the new rule, saying that it was callous and took advantage of elderly patients and their families at a vulnerable time in their lives.
The new rule does not ban arbitration agreements, but instead says that they must be in plain language and explained to the patient and their family so that they are aware of what they are signing.
Do you need representation for a nursing home claim? Contact Schenk Smith today for a free consultation.