Articles Tagged with arbitration agreements

800px-Old_Man_in_San_JoseCalifornia 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

William_Albert_Ackman_signatureFor more than a year, mandatory arbitration agreements have been illegal in California nursing homes. Instead, patients at facilities in San Diego can only be asked to sign voluntary binding arbitration agreements. Over the last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has been working on a federal rule that would prohibit forced arbitration agreements in nursing homes across the country, permitting facilities instead to have only voluntary binding arbitration agreements (like those in California). Yet according to a recent article in The New York Times, even voluntary binding arbitration agreements can put a nursing home resident in a vulnerable position in relation to a facility. Should we be talking about banning all arbitration agreements if we want to ensure patients get justice when nursing home abuse happens?

No Legal Recourse for Harmed Patients in Arbitration?

As the article in The New York Times explains, federal rules concerning forced arbitration agreements in nursing homes will soon be finalized. However, are those protections sufficient to ensure that nursing homes are held accountable when nursing home abuse or neglect occurs? As a brief reminder, arbitration agreements—both those that are “forced” or required for a patient to enter a nursing home, as well as those that a patient agrees to voluntarily upon entering a facility—require patients and their families to settle legal issues “through private arbitration rather than through lawsuits.”