At some point you will be faced with the care of a sick or aging parent. Your mom or dad needs a nursing home and you think you have found a good one. You are handed a stack of paperwork to sign to get them admitted. Hidden in that stack will be a piece of paper that says that the nursing home can get away with abusing and neglecting your loved one. It is called a nursing home arbitration clause.
A nursing home arbitration clause is a portion of your contract that says you agree in advance, no matter what the nursing home does to your loved one, that you are not going to be allowed to go into a public court and have a jury hear your case. The nursing homes often include a provision in their nursing home arbitration clause that the two or three people who will make up the arbitration panel that decides your case in secret are required to be members of organizations that support nursing homes.
Many people come to our nursing home lawyers because they want the public to know what has happened to their loved one so hopefully it does not happen to someone else. When a nursing home arbitration clause is signed, this does not happen.
The Center for Medicare Services has passed a series of rules that all nursing homes that accept Medicare must follow. In 2016 they passed a rule that it would be no longer permissible for nursing homes to require that patients or their families sign arbitration clauses. This was a victory for families of all nursing home patients and their families. The Center for Medicare Services concluded that when you are at your most vulnerable and your parent needs help it is unconscionable for nursing homes to make their patients sign a document that sends them off to a private kangaroo court. Unfortunately, President Trump has recently directed that this policy be reversed. Not only did the Trump Administration propose that mandatory nursing home arbitration clauses are allowable, they have even gone so far as to remove the Center for Medicare Services language regarding the selection of a mutually agreed upon arbitrator who handles disputes at a mutually agreed upon location. In other words, the nursing home could include in their nursing home arbitration clause that even if the nursing home is located in Dayton, Ohio, you would have to use an arbitrator of their choosing in Cleveland or New York City. These inherent road blocks would make it virtually impossible to be successful in protecting your loved one.
What should you do? Do not sign a nursing home arbitration clause under any circumstance. Under Ohio Law you are still not required to sign a nursing home arbitration clause. You cannot be denied admission to a facility for refusing to sign a nursing home arbitration clause. If you have any questions about a loved one who has been a victim of nursing home abuse or neglect, please call our nursing home attorney at any time for a free consultation.