By Tim Canova
Putting a loved one in a nursing home is life-changing and often a heart-breaking experience. It saddens me to say that President Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care.
The Trump administration’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is planning to ditch a 2016 Obama-era rule which cut Medicare and Medicaid payments to nursing homes that required their residents to sign “forced” arbitration agreements — thereby providing some protection for vulnerable senior citizens from abusive, unscrupulous, and negligent nursing home practices.
These forced arbitration agreements, backed by the giant long term care industry, are a way for nursing homes to shield themselves from consequences for illegal and sometimes deadly conduct. The new proposed policy by CMS could adversely affect 1.5 million nursing home residents by placing the burden on them and their families to bring a case against a nursing home though a private third-party arbitrator where the matter could be settled but rarely is – thereby forfeiting their day in court.
Progress For All is joining over 75 consumer, health and advocacy groups to help beat back the greedy nursing home industry and restore the Obama rule which allows residents the right to sue and protect their sixth and seventh constitutional amendments.
Please click here to donate what you can to help Progress For All fight this callous policy, as we call on the Trump Administration to protect seniors from abusive and fraudulent practices by private nursing home facilities.
Forced arbitration can prevent even the most egregious cases from ever reaching a judge. And it’s costly and troublesome for seniors, many of whom often give up and decide not to pursue any legal action at all.
31 U.S. Senators’ led by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and 16 State Attorneys sent a letter to CMS’s administrator Seema Verma condemning the proposal and asking for the Obama rule to stay in place. They warn that the current CMS proposal rolls back a critical protection for nursing home residents and puts their safety and health at significant risk.
As the letter points out, arbitration is often confidential and the results of hearings are not part of a public record, which means that many long term care facilities “may be getting away with widespread Medicare and Medicaid fraud.”
Americans should be outraged that the Trump Administration, greedy nursing homes and health care corporations are attacking our nation’s most vulnerable citizens and their families at the most fragile time in their lives.
We must restore and protect the health, safety and welfare of nursing home residents by restoring their rights to genuine access to the judicial system. We must reject this mean-spirited proposal that seeks to tip the scales in favor of corporations over people.