Don’t Let Nursing Home Residents Sign Away Their Rights

How are changes in federal regulations making nursing home residents less vulnerable?

Nursing home neglect is all too common. The fact that millions of elderly dependent adults may be unknowingly signing away their constitutional rights to have their grievances settled by a civil jury has made the situation even more dire. A recent rule, however, being enforced by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has given a bit more protection to nursing home residents. This new regulation is an effort to prevent patients from unwittingly signing documents that force them to submit any grievances they have regarding their care to be settled by binding arbitration since binding arbitration is known to be a process that favors businesses over consumers.

Because of the mixed emotions and element of desperation so prevalent when nursing home admissions become necessary, it is vital that families caught up in this turmoil have a competent, trustworthy law firm behind them. Skilled attorneys know precisely how to protect nursing home patients and their loved ones from suffering the pain and indignity of being shafted by the very place they turn to for help in their hour of deepest need.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has power in this situation since nursing homes receive federal funds through both Medicare and Medicaid. This past October, the agency issued new rules, to be enacted on Nov. 28, 2016, prohibiting nursing homes from requiring patients to agree to arbitration either as a condition of admission or before a dispute with a facility arises.

California has been more proactive than some other states in regulating the quality of food, medical treatment, and personnel requirements for long-term facilities, even requiring that nursing homes develop a specific care plan for each resident within 48 hours of their admission. Even so, it is important that California patients entering nursing homes and their families be alert to the possibility that a facility, even one that seems reputable, may attempt to take advantage of them. They should consult with a knowledgeable legal firm whose job it is to protect and defend them.