House passes Silver Alert Act, arbitration act reintroduced

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Federal "Silver Alert" notification system gains ground with lawmakers
Federal "Silver Alert" notification system gains ground with lawmakers
The ball is back in the U.S. Senate's court on the issue of financing a system to help find missing seniors. The House last week passed the National Silver Alert Act (H.R. 632), which would establish an infrastructure for alerting both law enforcement and the public when a senior goes missing.

Much like the Amber Alert System already in place for missing children, the Silver Alert System would use radio, television and highway signs to inform the public. The bill would allocate $10 million to help states implement the system. The Silver Alert Coordinator, a newly created position within the Department of Justice, would oversee the voluntary implementation of the system across the country. Many long-term care, other healthcare and senior advocacy groups have praised the legislation and its chief sponsor, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). A similar measure was introduced during the previous Congress, but it died after the Senate did not act on it.

Another reintroduced piece of legislation, however, is not receiving praise from the provider community. It is the Arbitration Fairness Act (H.R. 1020), which seeks to end the use of mandatory arbitration-agreement clauses in nursing home admission agreements. Healthcare lobbyists were quick to denounce the bill, which was reintroduced in the House on Thursday.

"Arbitration settlements are quicker and less adversarial than traditional litigation, and many courts throughout America have determined the process to be both fair and appropriate," argued Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association.