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Nursing home abuse cases may continue to go to arbitration

If you have a loved one who has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, you want justice. You want to see the people responsible for harming your loved one made to pay for their actions (or inactions).

However, many nursing homes require people to sign a document upon entering or admitting a loved one that states that any legal action will go to arbitration. As one law professor, who is also a health policy expert, says, arbitration in most cases will "favor the repeat players who hire them? -- companies, not consumers."

President Obama sought to change that. Last year, his administration issued rules that called for Medicaid and Medicare to cease payments to nursing homes that required their residents to sign arbitration agreements. However, a Mississippi judge stopped those rules. While his reasoning involved the role of the federal government in blocking state funding, he added that he thought the rules were "based upon sound public policy."

The Trump administration has proposed a rule that would allow nursing homes to receive Medicaid and Medicare funding even if they require submission to arbitration agreements. With the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Obama era rules would likely have been struck down in a court battle even without the president's blessing.

Putting a family member in a nursing home is often a sad and stressful experience. It's understandable that people don't always read the language in the contract, let alone understand it. A West Virginia attorney who is experienced in dealing with nursing home cases can provide crucial guidance in reviewing and explaining the potential ramifications of a contract before you sign it.

Source: ThinkProgress, "The Trump administration is quietly making it easier to abuse seniors in nursing homes," Ian Millhiser, July 06, 2017

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