Friday, August 18, 2017

Trump administration wants to drop Obama rule, tied up in court, that would ban binding arbitration in nursing-home disputes

"The Trump administration is pushing to scrap a rule that would have made it easier for nursing home residents to sue nursing homes for injuries caused by substandard care, abuse or neglect," reports Robert Pear of The New York Times. "The push would undo a rule issued by the Obama administration that would have prevented nursing homes from requiring that consumers agree to resolve any disputes through arbitration rather than litigation. Nursing homes routinely require consumers to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission to the home."

Many businesses are including binding-arbitration rules in their contracts with consumers, Pear notes, but nursing homes are a special kind of business, dominated by a special kind of patient. "About half of nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and consumer advocates say harried family members could easily miss the arbitration clauses as they move a loved one into a home offering care," he reports.

The rules were issued in September 2016, but a lawsuit by the industry and a judge's ruling kept them from taking effect.

The Obama administration said it was “almost impossible for residents or their decision-makers to give fully informed and voluntary consent to arbitration before a dispute has arisen,” but the Trump administration makes another argument: “We believe that arbitration agreements are, in fact, advantageous to both providers and beneficiaries because they allow for the expeditious resolution of claims without the costs and expense of litigation.”

Trump-appointed officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have "proposed several requirements to protect nursing home residents who agree to binding arbitration," Pear reports, including “plain language” in contracts and an explanation to the consumer “in a form and manner that he or she understands.” The nursing-home industry has objected, calling the rules “hopelessly vague.”

No comments:

Post a Comment