Nursing home residents and their families who sign mandatory arbitration clauses when being admitted into long-term care facilities, are one step closer to regaining their rights to hold those facilities accountable in court for abuse and neglect, according to the Senior Journal. The Journal reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee this week approved the bi-partisan bill – the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008. The bill moves to the Senate for approval.
According to the Senior Journal the bill would invalidate mandatory arbitration clauses in nursing home, assisted living, and other long-term care facility contracts. Under the bill, residents and families could voluntarily choose to arbitrate an issue after a problem occurred, but they would no longer have to agree to give up their right to sue the facility if it severely abused, neglected, or financially exploited the resident.
The Journal noted that nursing homes often are a last resort for families, and many times decisions made during admission are done under desperate or emergency situations. “Individuals and families have little or no opportunity to fully consider and understand the consequences of an arbitration provision buried within and 40- or 50-page admissions document that they are asked to sign during the admissions process. In many cases, individuals are unaware that they had signed an arbitration agreement,” according to the Journal report.