Forcing claims of elder abuse, sexual harassment and wrongful death into arbitration, has been pushed by the federal agency that controls more than $1 Trillion in Medicare and Medicaid funding.
The Health and Human Services Department is the domain of this agency and has mandated that any nursing homes receiving federal funding cannot resolve cases in private arbitration, favoring a court resolution instead.
Nursing Homes with 1.5 million residents in total, would be affected by this new mandate and are being promised new protections and services.
Safety and quality of care issues have been pushed out of public view by the fine print embedded in the clauses of the new mandate.
Even in the case of murder, families of Nursing Home residents will have a harder time finding justice. This new system will lower court costs, but does little progress for victims.
A 100-year-old woman was found murdered in her Nursing Home, strangled by her roommate. This case was blocked by the district court for reasons undetermined. Similarly, a 94-year-old woman died at a Nursing Home in Murrysville, PA as a direct result of a head wound. Last November, The New York Times, ran a front-page article on these cases.
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said a week ago, “The sad reality is that today too many Americans must choose between forfeiting their legal rights and getting adequate medical care”.
A statement made that same Wednesday by Mark Parkinson, the President and chief executive of the American Health Care Association said the change on arbitration “clearly exceeds” the statutory authority by the agency and was “wholly unnecessary to protect residents’ health and safety”.
After officials and legislators in 16 different States, as well as the District of Columbia, pushed the new rule on arbitration so government could cut off funding to all Nursing Homes that utilized the clauses of the new mandate made by the agency. The argument is that arbitration will keep wrongdoing private and hidden from residents and their families.
Health and Human Services, an agency under Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has with it’s decision and plan, given millions of elderly Americans their justly deserved day in court.
This new action is the most significant revision of the agency’s rules for governing federal funding to long-term care in more than two decades.
The Obama Administrations new ruling on the matter is an effort to stymie arbitration and concealment of wrong doing, a parallel system of justice that has been built behind quiet doors for more than a decade.
Credit card companies and other financial firms are now prevented from using arbitration clauses that stymie victims from getting together and issuing class-action lawsuits. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed the draft of the new rule responsible for this prevention in May of this year.