Thursday, September 29, 2016

Long-term Care Arbitration Attacked

This month, a decision by the Supreme Court of Florida and a rule by the federal agency that controls Medicaid and Medicare funding have dealt serious blows to the use of arbitration by long-term care facilities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency under Health and Human Services (HHS), essentially bars any nursing home or assisted living facility that receives federal funding from requiring that its residents resolve any disputes in arbitration, instead of in court. It is the most significant overhaul of the agency’s rules governing federal funding of long-term care facilities in more than two decades. The nursing home industry has said that arbitration offers a less costly alternative to court. Allowing more lawsuits, the industry has said, could drive up costs and force some homes to close. This was the case over a decade ago, when many excess verdicts were recorded in Florida, forcing players out of the state or out of business altogether. Lawyers who work with the elderly say that people are being admitted to nursing homes at one of the most stressful moments of their lives. Distraught and often desperate for a room, prospective residents do not fully grasp what they are signing. Many times, family members are involved in the admission process. The the Supreme Court of Florida said in a Miami case that a father who was a resident in a nursing home could not be bound by an arbitration requirement that his son had signed without the father’s agreement. However, reportedly, one appeals court refused to throw out an arbitration clause signed by a man who could not read or sign his name, reasoning that “illiteracy alone is not a sufficient basis for the invalidation of an arbitration agreement.” See FL decision in Mendez v. Hampton Court Nursing Center, LLC here-- Read more here: and