This past Fall, 2016, the federal centers for Medicare & Medicaid services (CMS) issued a new rule that would prevent most nursing homes and other long-term care facilities from using forced arbitration to strip new residents of their right, to file lawsuits against these companies. The industry soon “fired back” by doing the very thing it doesn’t want its customers to do – File a lawsuit. The judge in that case granted the industry’s request for a preliminary injunction, thereby preventing the new rule from being enforced.
To recap, the CMS rule basically says that if a long-term care facility wants to accept Medicare or Medicaid, it will have to stop putting forced arbitration clauses in new residential agreements. Already-signed resident agreements that contain these clauses would not be effected.
Forced arbitration is when both parties have agreed to settle all legal disputes outside of the courtroom and before an arbitrator. The idea is that it’s supposed to be faster and less costly, but it’s not necessarily either of those things.
More problematic is that most arbitration clauses include a ban on class actions- even through arbitration. Thus, when you have a systematic issue affecting multiple residents of a nursing home, each resident would have to go through the arbitration process on his or her own. BE CAREFUL when you or a loved one enters a nursing home. Do NOT sign off on documents presented to you without first having such documents reviewed (at no cost by us) by any good lawyer – like a Mount Vernon personal injury lawyer at Hassakis & Hassakis, P.C.