House subcommittee passes nursing home arbitration bill (07/17/08 McKnight’s Long Term Care News)

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial Law and Administrative Law Tuesday approved the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act, which would outlaw signing an arbitration agreement as a prerequisite to admission in a nursing home.

Republicans on the subcommittee voted against the measure but came up short in a 5-4 vote. Some members tried to add amendments that would remove some of the sting for nursing homes. Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) tried to add language that would exclude physicians and providers in nursing homes from the bill, ensure the bill would not be retroactive, as well as other provisions. All these amendments were shouted down in voice votes.

The subcommittee’s approval moves the bill one step closer to becoming law. Long-term care advocates oppose the legislation, arguing that arbitration agreements allow them to channel limited Medicare and Medicaid resources to providing quality care instead of funding lengthy court trials.  

Of course, no Medicaid or Medicare money actually goes to defending lawsuits since insurance companies pay for the defense of the claim.  What is really needed is a bill that mandates minimum amounts of insurance for each facility–something in the amount of 10% of gross revenues.

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