California law has proven to be a step ahead of federal law when it comes to banning arbitration agreements in nursing homes in order to prevent elder abuse. A recent Medicare final rule has banned nursing homes “from requiring patients to agree to mandatory arbitration prior to admission,” according to an article in Bloomberg BNA. Another article in The New York Times emphasized the importance of this new rule. When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released news of the final rule on September 28, San Diego nursing home residents already were protected against mandatory arbitration agreements under section 1599.81 of the California Health & Safety Code.
Yet the Medicare final rule still has relevance for San Diego residents. First, anyone living in Southern California who has elderly loved ones in another state now can be assured that those seniors, too, are protected against mandatory arbitration agreements. In addition, the new Medicare final rule also does more than protect against mandatory arbitration agreements, and those additional requirements will apply to elderly residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in the San Diego area.
How California Law Compares to CMS Final Rule on Arbitration Agreements
Now that CMS has banned nursing homes from requiring arbitration agreements, it is a good time to reflect on how California laws already protect nursing home residents against the terms of arbitration agreements. Prior to the Medicare rule, as we mentioned above, Section 1599.81 of the California Health & Safety Code made clear that nursing homes in California “cannot require applicants or residents to sign an arbitration agreement as a condition of admission or medical treatment,” and any arbitration agreements used must be separate from admission documents.
In addition, under section 1295(c) of the California Code of Civil Procedure, nursing home residents, as well as their legal representatives, are permitted to rescind an arbitration agreement within 30 days of signing it as long as they provide written notice to the facility. In other words, if a nursing home resident signs an arbitration agreement without understand the potential repercussions of that decision, she or her legal representative can correct that decision within 30 days of its occurrence.
What the New Medicare Rule Does for Nursing Home Residents
As The New York Times and Bloomberg BNA articles discuss, the CMS final rule was published on October 4th, and it will officially take effect on November 28th. However, the provisions of the rule will be phased in over three years. Since California residents already had laws to turn to in the event of a mandatory arbitration agreement, does the CMS final rule provide any additional protections to seniors in San Diego?
In addition to banning mandatory arbitration agreements, the article highlights how the CMS rule also “revised requirements that long-term care facilities must meet to participate in federal health-care programs, including a requirement that all nursing home staff be properly trained to care for dementia patients and prevent elder abuse.” In other words, the federal agency is putting additional pressure on nursing homes across the country to ensure that staff members are trained properly so as to prevent nursing home abuse and neglect.
If you have questions about mandatory arbitration agreements, or if an elderly loved one in Southern California already signed an arbitration agreement and you would like to know more about your options to rescind it, you should discuss your case with an experienced San Diego nursing home abuse lawyer. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
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(image courtesy of Shayan Sanyal)