16 states ask feds to protect consumer right to sue nursing homes

 

The District of Columbia and 16 states are pushing the Trump administration to protect nursing home residents’ right to take facilities to court over alleged abuse, neglect and sexual assault.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and state attorneys general for California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington sent comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) opposing its proposal to reverse coarse on an Obama-era rule that banned nursing homes from putting language in resident contracts that require disputes to be settled by a third-party arbitrator rather than a court.

“Pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements in general can be procedurally unfair to consumers, and can jeopardize one of the fundamental rights of Americans; the right to be heard and seek judicial redress for our claims,” the attorneys said in their comments.

“This is especially true when consumers are making the difficult decisions regarding the long-term care of loved ones. These contractual provisions may be neither voluntary nor readily understandable for most consumer. 

CMS announced its plan in June to revise the rule and allow nursing homes to use the provisions, known to lawyers as pre-dispute arbitration agreements, so long as the agreements are written in plain language and are explained to the prospective resident. The resident must also acknowledge that they understand the agreement they are signing. 

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