This week, federal officials announced a new rule that will finally allow lawsuits against nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding to be submitted to court. Previously, these lawsuits had to be handled in private arbitration, a process that kept claims secret and limited the rights of the patients and families.
As the New York Times
reports, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (a part of the Health and Human Services Department), announced the new rule after 16 states and District of Columbia requested that the government cut Medicare and Medicaid funding to nursing home facilities that kept these arbitration-only clauses in the fine print of their legal agreements.
“Today the Obama administration finalized regulations prohibiting pre-dispute arbitration clauses, taking a tremendous step toward protecting nursing home residents by ensuring that they can hold facilities accountable in cases of abuse or neglect,” said American Association for Justice President Julie Braman Kane in a statement following the announcement
. “This will greatly improve patient safety at nursing homes and restore the rights of nursing home residents and their families.”
“Forfeiting Their Legal Rights”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ announcement comes at a time when nursing home abuse and neglect cases have received national attention. In one case, the claim that a 100-year-old resident had been murdered by her roommate has blocked from the courtroom, as was a case covered by the Times in 2015 in which a 94-year-old resident died from an unexplained head wound.
Arbitration-only causes were intended to reduce nursing home legal costs and keep unflattering stories away from the public, but many found that the clauses stole away fundamental civil rights from the 1.5 million residents and families that use federally funded facilities. As Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont told the press: “The sad reality is that today too many Americans must choose between forfeiting their legal rights and getting adequate medical care.”
Does your family have an abuse or neglect claim against a nursing facility? If so, the dedicated team at Christian & Christian is ready to hear your story. Our Greenville nursing home abuse lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in relief for clients who have been wronged by others. We’re ready to hear your story and assess the viability of your claim.
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