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Trump Administration May Remove Obama Era Ban on Nursing Home Arbitration Agreements

On Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget met with long term care groups and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to discuss a revision of an Obama era rule that banned arbitration agreements as a condition of admission for nursing home residents. By signing an arbitration agreement, a nursing home resident waives their 7th amendment right to a trial. It has been found that by forgoing a judge and jury, arbitration heavily favors nursing homes.

Taking Away the Rights of the Elderly
CMS intended to begin implementing this rule at the end of last November, but not before being halted by a federal court in Mississippi. The court ruled that the agency lacked the authority to impose such a rule and since then, CMS has been working on appealing that decision. However, it seems CMS is ready to abandon their appeal in favor of siding with the Trump administration. Trump has been vocal about removing regulations and barriers that interfere with business operations and nursing home owners and advocates have long argued that arbitration agreements are the only way to avoid costly legislation and potential closure of their facilities. While arbitration agreements might seem like a savvy business move, consider who is paying the price on the other side of this argument. The nursing home industry has a history of low pay for employees, long hours, overcrowding, poor care and minimal staff training. Nursing homes are an extremely lucrative business, which explains why over half of all Illinois nursing home residents are in a privately-held facility. Requiring a nursing home resident and/or their loved ones to sign hefty admission packets with a small clause requiring arbitration feels more than a little deceitful. What’s worse, considering the atrocities that occur as a result of the troubles nursing homes face, it seems unfair to require some of society’s most vulnerable to give up their right to a trial.

While no one has said exactly what the planned revision of the nursing home arbitration ban will be, CMS hinted during Friday’s meeting that they were leaning in favor of arbitration, which contradicts their attempts last year to ban such a practice. No one can say for sure why CMS would suddenly reverse their stance, but we do know that the Office of Management and Budget has 90 days to respond to the rule CMS put forth last week. If CMS did in fact amend the rule to instead push for arbitration, it’s guaranteed that the pro-business Trump administration will enforce it.

Stay tuned for more updates as they become available.

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