A federal ruling that would preserve the right for patients and their families to sue nursing homes and long term care facilities has been temporarily blocked by a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Mississippi.
The proposed ruling, announced in September by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), would prohibit nursing homes from using forced arbitration agreements as a requirement for admission. Arbitration forces patients and families to settle legal disputes over quality of care, negligence or abuse in private rather than the court system.
CMS argued that the agreements were often hidden within the fine print of admission documents and did not fully convey the true legal rights that residents were surrendering when entering the care of these facilities.
CMS threatened to cut all Medicare and Medicaid funding to facilities that continued to force arbitration agreements on new residents.
The agency stated that by ending forced arbitration agreements, the care and safety of nearly 1.5 million residents in the 15,000 facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding would be drastically improved.
CMS’s ruling would have gone into effect on Nov. 28, but was instead met with a lawsuit filed by the American Health Care Association (AHCA), which represents most nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the U.S.
The court found that CMS may have overstepped its limits as a federal agency when it threatened to sever funding to uncooperative facilities and that the power to cease federal funding is a right limited to congress.
The injunction declared that CMS’s ruling to end arbitration could not go into effect until the AHCA lawsuit has been settled.
However, the court displayed sympathy for CMS’s intentions by stating that the forced arbitration clauses posed concerns, but that the agency needed evidence to show that it was able to implement power at this level.
If the rights of your loved one has been violated in a nursing home, contact the nursing home abuse attorneysat Henness & Haight to determine if your loved one is entitled to compensation. Schedule a free consultation today.