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Crossing Out the Clause: Forced Arbitration in Nursing Home Contracts

August 5, 2016  ·  By HM&M

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Nursing home residents and their families face more than the risk of abuse and neglect, a recent New York Times article reported. The multi-billion dollar industry has created a way to suppress the constitutional right of residents and their families of trial by jury when abuse and neglect occurs. Vulnerable consumers, desperate to sign agreements, are forced into mediation rather than lawsuits. Forced arbitration clauses, such as those found in nursing home agreements, favor corporations and prevent consumers from holding companies fully accountable. They make claims too expensive to pursue and provide little relief to customers that have been wronged by abusive practices.

In cases of nursing home abuse, forced arbitration clauses take on new, problematic forms. Since Medicare and Medicaid frequently front nursing home bills, cases tend to focus on attaining quality care rather than big money. In order to avoid the ill effects of forced arbitration, consumers of nursing home care and their families would have to foresee a high possibility for mistreatment. Without this kind of anticipation, families are locked into forced arbitration, in which consumers are successful just 20% of the time, according to the 2015 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid allow pre-dispute clauses as long as the nursing homes make efforts to legally disclose them. While nursing home admission does not require that families sign contracts with forced arbitration, adequate information regarding the clause is rarely conveyed. As families navigate the emotional and administrative difficulty of nursing home admission, they are faced an additional hurdle: deciding whether or not to sign the clause without necessary information readily accessible.

Forced arbitration clauses, like those in nursing home contracts, are likely to persist until people fight back by contacting their state and federal legislators and demanding laws that prohibit these clauses. Potential residents and their families can ask to sign after admission, and later refuse to sign the clause, as well as crossing out the clause from the contract (which is recommended in any transaction where this clause appears, such as buying a car). Lastly, consumers should consider other care opportunities if the provider is more focused on protecting itself from a lawsuit rather than honoring the wishes of its residents and their families.

Hurley McKenna & Mertz advocates for families and victims of the nursing home abuse or neglect. With more than 75 years of combined experience, our Chicago, Illinois motor vehicle accident attorneys can provide the skills, knowledge, and resources to help you and your loved ones pursue the compensation you deserve. Learn more about nursing home abuse and neglect, and obtain dedicated and aggressive representation by calling [[phone]] to schedule your free consultation today.


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