AAJ Supports Nursing Home Residents' RightsOctober 31,2016
Washington, DC—A new federal rule protecting nursing home residents should not be delayed at the behest of the nursing home industry, the American Association for Justice (AAJ) said in an amicus brief filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. The court is considering a lawsuit brought by the nursing home industry to halt a new rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would increase the safety of nursing home residents and restore their fundamental rights by prohibiting forced arbitration contracts. AAJ was joined in the brief by the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, the Mississippi Association for Justice, the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and Public Citizen, Inc.
“Rather than acting to protect nursing home residents, the nursing home industry is making this last-ditch effort to continue the practice of having residents and their families unknowingly giving up fundamental rights, thereby threatening the health and safety of all residents,” said AAJ President Julie Braman Kane.
AAJ writes in the brief:
Admitting a loved one into a nursing home can be one of the most stressful experiences a family endures. Emotions can run high, and legal awareness low. When signing admission papers, the constitutional right to a jury trial may be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. But, later, if abuse or neglect comes to light, a question arises: Did the resident really consent to arbitrate and give up her right to go to court?
Corporations bury forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of everything from nursing home admissions forms to employee handbooks and credit card terms of service. These abusive clauses force Americans’ claims into arbitration – a rigged, secretive system designed by corporations to deny justice and accountability. In response to growing attention and public outrage, policy makers are taking action to curb forced arbitration.
Corporate nursing homes have prioritized profits over people for years, neglecting the residents who need them most. Fortunately CMS has finally put an end to the corporate bullying tactic of forced arbitration clauses, thus restoring the rights of residents and their families to hold these corporations accountable. CMS clearly and accurately stated its legal authority to set conditions for nursing homes.