Arbitration clauses in nursing home final rule getting federal scrutiny

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell

The future of nursing home arbitration agreements is under scrutiny by the Office of Management and Budget as part of its nursing home final-rule review.

OMB began its review Tuesday, Bloomberg BNA reported. The 403-page proposed rule, the first in 14 years, was released in July, and included language meant to help residents understand what they were signing in pre-dispute arbitration agreements.

Final action on the rule is expected next month.

Over the past year, the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living has repeatedly pushed back against the government curbing the use of arbitration agreements in nursing homes. 

“Both Congressional intent and current federal policy related to arbitration agreements is comprehensive. AHCA doesn't believe further agency directive is necessary or possible. Congress has spoken, and CMS does not have the authority to prohibit the use of arbitration agreements to which parties voluntarily agree," wrote AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson in a statement.

But some Democratic House members, led by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), along with more than a dozen states attorneys general, have asked CMS to forbid pre-dispute arbitration clauses in admission contracts in facilities.

Among other issues up for debate within the rule are more dietary accommodations for residents, lessening of antipsychotics, and higher staffing regulations.

LTC industry groups have asked for any implementations of final regulations to be staggered. The complete rule can be read here.