CMS showing its discomfort with arbitration arrangement

CMS Administrator Sylvia Burwell leads during an era of stricter oversight of pre-admission arbitration agreements.
CMS Administrator Sylvia Burwell leads during an era of stricter oversight of pre-admission arbitration agreements.

Residents should fully understand binding arbitration agreements, and know that they have the option to contact federal, state or local healthcare officials about them, according to a proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Agency officials admitted they had considered summarily outlawing such pre-admission agreements but backed away, saying such a move would be too difficult of an imposition on providers. 

While the controversial agreements were not expressly prohibited under July's proposed regulation overhaul, CMS warned it is concerned some nursing home residents “may feel pressured to sign these agreements.”

“Admission to the facility should not be contingent upon the resident or the resident representative signing a binding arbitration agreement,” the proposal states. 

“Increasing prevalence of these agreements could be detrimental to residents' health and safety and may create barriers for surveyors and other responsible parties to obtain information related to serious quality of care issues.”

Neutral arbitrators should conduct arbitration sessions in a location convenient to both parties, CMS added.