Last year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiated a rule that prohibits nursing homes from requiring patients to sign mandatory arbitration agreements prior to disputes. However, CMS hit the brakes on enforcement of that rule in a largely-overlooked memo in December, indicating it would not do so until a court-ordered injunction is lifted. That occurred in November, when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi granted the request of trade group American Health Care Association’s to halt the rule.
The other big question mark here is how the Trump Administration is going to handle this issue, which involves stripping nursing home residents of the legal remedy of pursuing a trial in court. Instead, arbitration agreements require disputes – even those pertaining to serious personal injury and death – be handled by an arbitrator of the nursing home’s choosing.
In the meantime, courts across the country have come to varying conclusions about the issue. In September, the Florida Supreme Court rejected mandatory arbitration in a nursing home abuse case. While the 3rd District Court of Appeal had sided with the nursing home in ruling the case should go to an arbitrator, the state supreme court ruled 5-2 that a decedent father should not be bound by an arbitration agreement signed without his consent by his son – who helped with his father’s admission to the nursing home. Continue reading →