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Consumer Voice & Others Urge CMS to Ban Forced Arbitration Agreements in Nursing Home Contracts

October 16, 2015

Consumer Voice, along with 38 other national advocacy organizations, sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday, October 14th, asking the agency to ban the use of pre-dispute, forced arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts. In a proposed rule released in July, CMS solicited feedback on whether or not the agency should ban these agreements as part of its revisions to the federal nursing home regulations. Consumer Voice has long advocated for the elimation of these clauses, as pre-dispute, arbitration agreements strip consumers of their constitutional right to a trial by jury and force individuals - before any problem arises - to agree to settle through an arbitration process. They are increasingly common in nursing home admission agreements, often used as a condition of admission into a facility, and place consumers and their loved ones at a disadvantage should incidences of harm, abuse and neglect occur.

In a press release regarding the matter, Marybeth Williams, Public Policy Associate, stated: "One of the most critical improvements CMS could make in the federal nursing home regulations would be to ban the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements by facilities. In our experience, such agreements never are good for consumers and never are made on a consumer's initiative. Instead, they are drafted by facilities and signed by consumers who feel that they do not have the freedom to say 'No.' Unlike disputes with a bank or cell phone provider, disputes that arise in nursing homes often involve catastrophic events such as pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, asphyxiation, sexual assault, and death. Residents and their representatives cannot reasonably foresee such tragedies occurring when these agreements are presented to them. CMS's proposed language would be ineffective and, worse yet, would suggest that pre-dispute arbitration agreements are approved by the agency. CMS must make the right choice for residents and ban the use of pre-dispute, arbitration agreements by nursing homes once and for all."

To read the organizational letter asking CMS to ban the use of these agreements, click here

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