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Has Forced Arbitration Been Forced Out of Nursing Homes?

December 19, 2016
Colson Hicks Eidson

A few months ago, the personal injury attorneys here at Colson Hicks Eidson brought you the story of a 100-year-old woman who was murdered by her unstable roommate in a nursing home. The woman’s son quickly pursued negligence charges against the nursing home because of the roommate’s record of violence, but he was blocked by the forced arbitration clause hidden in the contract he signed when his mother was admitted. However, new efforts by lawmakers might keep this man’s tragedy from being repeated.

Will Nursing Homes Be Forced to Abandon Forced Arbitration?

An agency within the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) is pushing to institute a new rule that could put a stop to forced arbitration in Nursing homes. It would prevent nursing homes that receive federal cash from requiring that their residents solve legal disputes with the nursing home through arbitration. This is a big change for millions of nursing home residents all around the country.

Right now, arbitration is billed by companies as a cheaper and faster way to resolve legal matters than going to court. However, arbitration can be very biased as firms tend to use the same arbitrators that side with them over and over again. Furthermore, arbitration happens behind closed doors and so details about these cases are never revealed to the public. This can hide cases of fraud, criminal activities and even elder abuse from the public eye. That’s why HHS acted, but there are still obstacles to beat.

Nursing homes all over the country are speaking out about this new rule, and they are claiming that HHS doesn’t have the authority to institute these rules. They claim that the new legal liabilities that this rule will open up may also close several nursing homes. But HHS is standing firm.

This new rule is due to go into effect in November, but courtroom resistance to the rule may delay it from being enforced. Do you think HHS has a point, or will the nursing home industry take too big of a hit? Tell us what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and don’t forget to follow our blog for more info about your constitutional rights.