Forbes had an article criticizing the Trump’s Administration decision to allow nursing homes to restrict resident’s constitutional right to a jury trial.
When your loved one needs nursing home care but the facility requires you to sign a mandatory arbitration agreement that states you will not sue, even if your loved one gets mistreated, neglected or abused. If you sign the agreement, your only option may be “third party arbitration”. If you don’t sign, you may not be able to get your loved one into the right nursing home. What will you do?
President Barack Obama signed a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule to help prevent such a scenario from happening. Obama’s rule would prevent any nursing home that receives Medicare or Medicaid funds (which is a lot of them) from enforcing such “no sue” agreements. But now this rule was overturned by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The conditions and quality of care at nursing homes are extremely variable, ranging from good to appalling. A study conducted by researchers from UCSF (Charlene Harrington,Helen Carrillo, and Taewoon Kang) and the University of California-Irvine (Brian Olney) published in Health Services Research found a number of staffing and quality of care deficiencies in many for-profit nursing homes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year 1 to 3 million serious infections occur in long-term care facilities with as many as 380,000 people dying as a result.
As the U.S. News and World Report described, a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control showed that about 15 percent of U.S. nursing homes were cited for lack of adequate infection control procedures.
As David Ruppe reported previously for ABC News, a Congressional study found that from January 1999 to January 2001, 30 percent of U.S. nursing homes had a total of nearly 9,000 cited instances of abuse with 1,601 cases causing harm or putting residents at risk for serious injury or death. And such abuse is not just out of neglect. Nursing home staff have assaulted and even sexually assaulted nursing home residents, as detailed in a story by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken for CNN .
Over 75 consumer groups have banded together to oppose changes to Obama’s rule. The Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) Coalition argued on their web site that retaining the right to sue is important protection for consumers:
Most people don’t know that forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many contracts to receive products and services, and even to obtain employment. These contract clauses force people to give up their right to go to court – even if a company harms them or rips them off. Instead consumers are pushed into secret arbitration. In arbitration there is no judge, jury, and decisions are rarely appealable. Arbitrators do not have to follow the law. Civil rights and consumer protection laws can become meaningless in arbitration. That’s why we need a federal law to make arbitration truly voluntary. Eliminating forced arbitration clauses from contracts will give us – consumers and employees – the power to choose court or arbitration after the dispute arises.