An Obama-era rule that provides protection for elderly people in nursing homes may be removed after today (Monday, August 9). The rule required there to be no language in resident contracts that made the resident unable to take a dispute, with the nursing facility, to court. This rule allowed for residents who were physically abused to seek justice in a courtroom, whereas without the rule, residents can be forced to settle these types of disputes with a third party.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is currently attempting to remove this rule, but now an alliance has been formed by health and advocacy groups to stop the CMS. The Fair Arbitration Now Coalition, combining 75 groups from areas of health, consumers, and more, will defend this critical rule.
Remington Gregg, a counsel for civil justice at Public Citizen, said, “When you are trying to get someone in a nursing home, often time it’s stressful or an emotional time. Often times loved ones can’t take care of themselves, so for a nursing home to say in order to get in you have to waive your right is shameful… We’re talking about everything you may have a problem with — abuse, neglect, sexual assault, a wide variety of things — they are now saying you are waiving your right to full justice.”
The case against the rule is that arbitration is cheaper and faster compared to litigation and payments for lawyers. CMS has an opportunity to rewrite the language of an agreement to waive the right to take the facility to court and would have to have the resident agree to it.
The AARP, a non-profit group for Americans for over 50 years, said, “To the extent that CMS may be relying on the authority to promulgate regulations ‘to promote the effective and efficient use of public moneys’ the regulations still need to be for the benefit of Medicare and Medicaid nursing facility residents and not to their detriment.”
Gregg responded to these issues saying, “Any agency action must meet a high bar for ensuring the action taken isn’t arbitrary and capricious… Simply making the argument that we are a new administration and want to make sure corporations don’t have regulations that are forcing them to be accountable is not a good enough reason to change a rule that underwent extensive review.”
Source: The Hill