The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008, a bill that would eliminate arbitration agreements as a requirement for admission into a nursing home, is one step closer to becoming a law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill last Thursday. Since its introduction in April of this year, the legislation has sparked a heated debate between lawmakers and consumer advocates on one side and nursing-home groups on the other. As recently as last Wednesday, healthcare lobbyists were sending letters to high-ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in an effort to defeat the bill. 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 quality of care.
The Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act will not entirely do away with arbitration agreements, lawmakers note. Rather, it will make them a voluntary agreement. Before it can become law, the bill must be debated on the Senate floor. No debate is currently scheduled.