Donald Trump sides with nursing homes that want to limit residents' right to sue

Cleveland Plain Dealer
Thursday, August 3, 2017

WASHINGTON -- Your parent is sick and aging. He needs a nursing home. And you've found what looks like a good one.

But as he is admitted, he is asked to sign a binding agreement stating that if he's ever harmed or believes he was mistreated, he won't sue. Instead, he'll go to binding arbitration and accept the outcome. He promises not to go to court -- and the nursing home asks him to sign that promise before it even gives him a bed.

This, say critics of the nursing home industry, is a standard practice that President Donald Trump not only wants to maintain but seeks to codify in a new federal rule. The Trump administration not only wants to reverse major parts of a rule signed in 2016 by President Barack Obama that would have banned arbitration agreements as part of the admission process. It also wants to make the rights of nursing homes clear in a federal rule.…

A question of coercion:

This is not simply a matter of which method is best for resolving disputes over patient safety, accidents or complaints. It's about an imbalance of power, advocates for seniors say.

They use a word that makes nursing home executives cringe: coercion.

Arbitration agreements are typically presented when a new resident enters a nursing home. There is an implication: Agree to this, or find some other place that will care for you.

The agreements, said Joanne Doroshow, executive director at New York University's Center for Justice and Democracy, "are coercive."

Or as a commenter from Ohio wrote in a message to CMS in June, without providing a name, "This proposal is just WRONG!!! No one should ever be forced to give up their rights unless they have committed and been convicted of a crime! This is just WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!!"

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