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Nursing home require residents to sign arbitration agreements

Deciding to move into or place a loved one in a nursing home is often not an easy choice to make. This is especially true with the ongoing discussions aboutnursing home abuse and neglect occurring in Massachusetts and other states across the nation. Even though most nursing home facilities are safe and perfectly adequate to reside at, many have concerns about what they would do if they believe they are a victim of abuse or neglect.

Much of this concern stems from the arbitration clauses included in nursing home contracts. These clauses require residents, as well as their families, to agree in advance to arbitrate any disputes that might arise involving the nursing home facility.

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services attempted this past fall to rewrite its nursing home regulations and prevent this requirement for most nursing home residents, it looks like these clauses will continue to hold their place in nursing home contracts despite the efforts and attempts made by federal regulators.

Nursing homes argue that arbitration is a faster and less costly way for consumers, such as residents and their families, to resolve any potential disputes. While arbitration is an alternative to an expensive and often drawn-out litigation process, many consumer advocates claim that industry arbitrators are often biased as a means for nursing home facilities to keep any major violations of health and safety rules private.

Even with the current requirement to sign an advanced arbitration agreement, this does not prevent residents or their loved ones from filing a claim if they suspect abuse or neglect. Reporting a possible violation could lead to further investigation. In addition, it could help a harmed individual with the collection of evidence and an award for damages suffered.

Source: Forbes, "Nursing Homes Can Continue To Require Residents To Agree To Binding Arbitration," Howard Gleckman, Jan. 4, 2017

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