Consumer groups are desperately trying to stop the Trump administration from taking away the right for nursing home residents and their families to sue the facilities for abuse, sexual assault, or gross neglect.
Just when you thought they couldn’t go any lower…
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) announced plans in June to do away with an Obama-ear rule that prohibited nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid funds from including language in their resident contracts requiring that disputes be settled by a third party rather than a court.”
Over 75 consumer, health, and advocacy groups have joined together to form the Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) Coalition. They are aiming to stop CMS from reversing critical protections for the elderly.
Remington Gregg is a lawyer for civil justice and consumer rights at Public Citizen. He called this rule reversal both unnecessary and shameful. Gregg said that this reversal creates an unequal balance of power between nursing homes and elderly residents and their families.
“When you are trying to get someone in a nursing home, often times 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 rights is shameful,” Gregg said.
“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.”
Last year the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and a group of nursing homes sued CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services over the Obama rule. Then in June a federal judge agreed to put the case on hold while CMS revised the rule.
“Under its proposed revisions, CMS said nursing homes would be required to write the arbitration agreements in plain language and explain the agreement to the prospective resident or his or her representative. Residents would also be required to acknowledge they understand the agreement.”
AARP said on Thursday that CMS lacks the statutory authority to eliminate the Obama protections. They argued that any regulations must be for the “benefit of Medicare and Medicaid nursing facility residents and not to their detriment.”
“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.”