Lawmakers turn focus to arbitration mandate

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Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI)
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved anti-industry legislation that would put an end to pre-admission requirements mandating dispute resolution agreements.

Since being introduced in April, the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act has put a wedge between providers and consumers.

“We think this is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation,” said Dave Kyllo, executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living.

The measure has already been approved in the House. Many in the long-term care industry argue that eliminating mandatory arbitration agreements will cause facilities to focus resources more on legal battles than on improving the quality of resident care. Consumer groups counter that the deals force residents and their families to enter into unfair arrangements while they are under duress.

The measure would not entirely do away with arbitration agreements, lawmakers note. Rather, it would make them voluntary.

Before it can become law, the bill must be debated on the Senate floor. No debate is currently scheduled.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of both the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition and Consumer Rights, and the Special Committee on Aging, and Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) are among the measure's leading sponsors.