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Forced arbitration agreements could leave nursing home patients without a day in court

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COWETA, Okla. - President Trump, the Commander in Chief, may soon be called the Rescinder in Chief by detractors, if he moves forward in rescinding or moving to rescind several Obama-era bills.

One bill he has his eye on is former President Obama’s ban on nursing home arbitration.

Under President Trump, any nursing home patient’s complaints of abuse and/or neglect would be taken to arbitration, rather than to a court setting. This applies to any facility that accepts Medicaid or Medicare. Nursing homes argue that going to arbitration is more cost effective than a lengthy court case.

Along with a forced arbitration agreement, the nursing home in question can chose the arbitrator, said arbitrators are not required to issue written documents, the ability to appeal a ruling is extremely limited, and patients may have to travel to the arbitration. Many nursing home residents are limited in their ability to travel, leaving an unfair advantage to the nursing homes.

Arbitration is problem solving without filling a lawsuit. There would be a hearing presided over by an arbitrator, a person who is appointed to settle a dispute. Rather than going to court, patient disputes will go to arbitration, where awards to plaintiffs can be as much as 35 percent lower than in juried court, according to the American Health Care Association.

Upon admission to a nursing home, new patients are required to sign an arbitration deal, regardless if they understand what they are signing. If they refuse to sign, they cannot be admitted, leaving them to bite the bullet and hope for the best. They are giving up their right to sue in all matters of abuse and/or neglect, including sexual abuse and wrongful death.

“We are alarmed that CMS’ decision to remove provisions prohibiting binding pre-dispute arbitration will very likely have dangerous and harmful impacts on nursing facility residents, as well as their families,” David Certner, AARP legislative counsel and legislative policy director, said in a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

CMS, or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is the Federal governing body over nursing homes and their staff.

“With Medicare and Medicaid spending over $82 billion on nursing home care in 2015, prospective residents, their families, and the public deserve greater accountability and transparency from these facilities, not less.” Carter argues, with 31 Democratic Senators backing.

The CMS is reviewing the proposed regulation. There is no word on how long it will take or when the public will have the final decision.

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Chelsea Copeland

Chelsea Copeland is a native Oklahoman, born in Tulsa and raised in Coweta. She graduated from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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