North Carolina residents who live in nursing facilities or have family members who do may be dismayed to learn that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services has stopped enforcing a rule that prevents the facilities from forcing patients to enter into binding arbitration agreements. A memo was sent to Medicare contractors and states in December.
Arbitration agreements prevent lawsuits from families who believe that their loved ones were provided with poor care at nursing home facilities. Family members often do not understand what they are signing or feel pressured to sign the contract. However, nursing homes generally prefer arbitration because the legal costs tend to be less than if they go to court.
A U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Mississippi granted a request from several state and health care groups to put an injunction on the rule. It went into effect on Nov. 28. In addition to the injunction, the CMS memo also stated that Medicare surveyors would not be auditing the facilities. While Donald Trump has vowed to reduce regulatory burdens for businesses, it is not known how his administration will view the banning of arbitration clauses when it comes to nursing home contracts.
When family members believes that a loved one suffered nursing home abuse or neglect, they may potentially have a cause of action against the facility. An attorney may assist with determining if the family signed an arbitration agreement. If they did, the attorney may provide the family members with other solutions. Depending on the severity of the alleged abuse, the attorney may also gather evidence that demonstrates how the facility is not following proper procedures or does not provide proper care for its residents.