More than 75 consumer, health and advocacy groups are fighting a Trump administration effort that prevents nursing home residents from taking long-term care facilities to court over alleged abuse, neglect or sexual assault. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to strike a proposed rule in its guidelines that would require nursing homes to remove forced arbitration clauses from new resident contracts or lose reimbursement for patient care.
Last year, CMS unveiled the Obama-era rule that was to have gone into effect last fall. But a legal effort by the nursing home industry put the measure on hold. In June, under the Trump administration, CMS announced that it was doing away with the rule and proposed revising it by requiring forced arbitration clauses to be written in plain English and thoroughly explained to patients and their family members.
The public was given 90 days to comment on the latest CMS proposal, and advocacy groups are desperately working to convince CMS that this tweak is not adequate and that it would essentially rescind commonsense policies meant to protect these vulnerable residents from abuse, neglect or unscrupulous nursing home practices.
“The Trump administration apparently thinks it is okay for nursing homes to force seniors into signing contract terms that give up their right to sue in court if they are subsequently victimized by neglect or abuse,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “It’s hard to imagine a more callous policy.”