Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pushback By Nursing Homes On CMS Arbitration Ban

This week, the nursing home industry, consisting of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and others, filed suit against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alleging CMS exceeded its authority and claiming the agency has no authority to regulate the use of arbitration. CMS recently promulgated a rule that prohibits Medicare participating skilled nursing facilities (SNF) from entering into arbitration agreements with residents at their facilities upon admission, no matter how fair or beneficial those agreements may be to residents. The complaint states that the new arbitration ban violates the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and exceeds the statutory authority of CMS and HHS under the Medicare and Medicaid Acts, neither of which vests the agencies with the power to regulate alternative dispute resolution procedures. The complaint argues, even if the rule is allowed by law, it is arbitrary and capricious because it would deprive nursing homes and their residents of the benefits of arbitration and result in the siphoning of resources toward litigation costs and away from resident care. The new rule does not prevent residents of a SNF from choosing to enter into arbitration-- it just means the SNF can no longer force the dispute out of the courtroom. However, the complaint contends that parties almost never agree to arbitration in a particular case after a dispute has arisen. See complaint here-- American Health Care Association, et al. v. Sylvia Burwell and Andrew Slavitt Case No. 3:16-cv-00233 http://bit.ly/2dMdKu9 and press release-- http://bit.ly/2ed140y