The White House is pushing to scuttle a rule that would have paved the way for more nursing home residents to take legal action against nursing homes for poor care, abuse and neglect. Such injuries for nursing home negligence are actionable under state personal injury laws. However, the Obama administration had made it easier for plaintiff’s by preventing nursing homes from mandating new patients agree to arbitration – as opposed to the court system – to resolve any future disputes.
Many nursing homes require new patients, patient representatives and family members to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of being admitted to the facility. Arbitration agreements are known to infringe on the rights of patients for a number of reasons. Firstly, arbitrators are chosen by the facilities and insurers, creating an implicit bias. Arbitrators are not bound by the laws of the state. The proceedings are private, depriving the public of valuable information regarding the practices and shortcomings of these facilities. They also tend more often than not to favor the facility, awarding less on average than the courts when they do decide a case in a plaintiff’s favor.