State attorneys general push CMS to ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements

Residents may miss binding arbitration clauses when they sign admission contracts, AGs say
Residents may miss binding arbitration clauses when they sign admission contracts, AGs say

Fifteen state attorneys general made their case for banning arbitration agreements from nursing home admission contracts in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid last week.

The state attorneys, joined by the attorney general for Washington D.C., said in the letter that today's arbitration agreements present nursing home residents and their families with a “take it or leave it” conundrum, and that many are unaware of the clauses' consequences until a dispute occurs.

“These provisions are an important incentive to the provision of quality care by nursing homes,” the letter states. “Yet, long-term care providers have and likely will continue to continue to assert that the Federal Arbitration Act authorizes providers to include pre-dispute binding arbitration clauses at the time of admission that deprive residents and their families of their state law rights to judicial relief.”

While proposed regulations by CMS to address issues with pre-dispute clauses are “a good faith effort”, the only way to “truly” prevent abuse of arbitration clauses is to prohibit them entirely, the attorneys wrote.

The attorneys' general letter follows letters to CMS by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, all calling for legislation against forced arbitration in nursing home contracts.