The decision to move into a nursing home is a tough one for many elderly and disabled people. Sometimes, finding available space at a good nursing home is even harder. For many families, just finding any space will lead them to sign a contract and agree to almost any regulations set before them. Up until recently, there has been a common clause listed in many contracts. This clause states that any disputes related to the quality of care in the home, or accusations of abuse be settled in arbitration rather than court.
Pros and Cons of Arbitration
Those who advocate for arbitration argue that the process is less expensive than going to court, and that many residents who have issues with nursing homes can have their cases heard in a timely manner. For some, the arbitration ruling could be satisfying enough, but when it is required it doesn’t leave a lot of room for dispute.
While arbitration can work for some cases, opponents have argued that the industry has taken advantage of the practice to keep negative news of nursing homes out of the public eye. This hinders prospective residents and their families from adequately screening nursing homes and prevents some victims from getting the level of justice they deserve.
New Arbitration Regulations
One of the core sources of funding for many nursing homes comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency under Health and Human Services. Recently the agency ruled that they will not fund nursing homes that use arbitration rather than taking grievances to court. This means if a nursing home or its staff is suspected of abuse or neglect, the resident, their family and attorney can fully investigate the case, and seek compensation for the resident and their family.
The rule applies to residents who have yet to move into nursing homes. It is expected that this change will affect over 1.5 million nursing home residents who will reside at facilities that are involved with Medicare and Medicaid.
You Have Options
The cutoff of funding prevents clauses requiring arbitration, but depending on the case, a resident’s lawyer can still review the case and their client may still opt for settlement that includes arbitration methods. However, since it is not mandated in their residential contract they have more freedom to negotiate and stand up for their rights if they believe they have not been treated as they should.
If you believe you or a loved one is being abused or neglected at a nursing home, it is important to get to the bottom of what is happening as soon as possible. A good elder law attorney can help you and your family member stand up for their rights, which may include compensation for injuries, as well as the pursuit of justice.