May 01, 2008
Arbitration bill draws angst from provider association
Bruce Yarwood, AHCA CEO
One group was notably absent when the cheering erupted over the introduction of a bill that would ban arbitration agreements from nursing home admission contracts: providers.
“We feel this bill is misguided and we strongly disagree with its approach,” said Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the nation's largest nursing home association.
Nursing home operators, among others, maintain that pre-admission arbitration clauses keep costs down, bring quicker resolution to complaints and, perhaps most importantly, prevent plaintiffs from frivolously trying to “hit it big” by generating huge jury awards.
“Like other healthcare providers, we strongly support the use of arbitration as a reasonable, intelligent option for both patients and providers,” said Yarwood, leader of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living.
The pre-admission agreements also ensure that revenues are not excessively diverted to legal costs, Yarwood said. Subsequently, they also allow operators to focus more on core caregiving tasks, he added.
Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) introduced the “Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act” in early April “to protect dispute resolution options” of nursing home and assisted living residents.
State courts have delivered mixed verdicts about the advance arbitration clauses. Plaintiffs and defendants have each claimed victories under various circumstances.