The Kansas City Star has an article about a study from the National Senior Citizens Law Center discussing clauses in nursing home agreements that violate the law. Some admission agreements skirt state and federal laws, misleading consumers about the care they can expect and inducing them to sign away critical consumer protections. Advocates for the elderly said the study raised serious questions about how some nursing homes operate.
The National Senior Citizens Law Center, a Washington-based nonprofit legal advocacy group for seniors and elder-care lawyers, reviewed 175 admission agreements voluntarily provided by nursing homes. The study found agreements which improperly limited a nursing home’s obligations. Others allowed discharges for vague reasons, or stuck relatives with bills they legally didn’t owe.
Toby S. Edelman, a spokesman for the Center for Medicare Advocacy in Washington, said similar studies in other states also show “ongoing concerns” with nursing home agreements.
The Missouri study found that nursing homes protect themselves by persuading seniors to waive their right to a jury trial. In 18 percent of the agreements, seniors were required to submit a dispute to arbitration, rather than sue in court. Trial lawyers contend they have successfully fought the provisions in court as unconstitutional and unenforceable in health-care cases.
The study contends the agreements also thwart federal law by inserting provisions making it easier to evict residents. Federal law sets out six conditions that justify evicting a resident.
Carlson, the study’s author, said that under the federal reform law nursing homes cannot require a relative or a friend to become financially liable for nursing home expenses. Yet, the study found that 19 percent of the admission agreements required a financial guarantee “in direct violation” of federal law. Such “co-guarantor clauses” are becoming more common.