A new rule takes effect on November 28, 2016 that impacts some nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Starting on that date, nursing homes and that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments will no longer be allowed to require a resident to submit a dispute to binding arbitration as a precondition to accepting the resident.
Pre-dispute binding arbitration agreements are becoming a widespread practice in contractual purchases. These agreements waive both parties’ right to take action in court. The parties are, instead, required to go through an arbitration process, where the arbitrator, who is the person deciding the outcome, may have a bias in favor of the nursing care industry.
In order to prevent such unfairness, the Department of Health and Human Service Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services created the new rule that will stop Medicare and Medicaid funding to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that enter into a pre-dispute arbitration agreements with their residents. This means that if the facility requires that you sign this agreement before you have an issue or dispute, then the facility faces losing all Medicare and Medicaid funding. However, arbitration agreements are not completely off the table. The rule states your residency may not be contingent on signing a binding arbitration agreement. However, if a dispute arises, the facility may offer an arbitration option, but the resident has the right to enter into the agreement or take their dispute to court.
If you enter or have entered into a nursing home or long-term care facility prior to November 28, 2016, unfortunately, the law does not apply retroactively. Please review your documents carefully. If you find yourself in a dispute with a nursing home, I recommend that you speak to an attorney.
If you believe there is a concern with the treatment, health care, or services provided by a nursing home, please visit Medicare.gov to find out how and where to file a complaint with the state in which your loved one is residing. Or, contact your state’s bar association to locate an attorney who handles disputes with nursing homes.
*Special thanks to Karie for writing assistance.