Several weeks ago, nursing home residents across the country won a big victory when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it will be instituting a ban on pre-dispute arbitration agreements in nursing homes that accept government funding.
These agreements have long been used by nursing homes to deny the constitutional right of a trial by jury to nursing home residents who have suffered abuse and neglect. Even if residents are severely injured or die as a result of a nursing home’s negligent care, these agreements protect nursing homes from having to go into court and defend their actions. HHS actually acknowledged that these agreements allow nursing homes to keep their abuse and neglect hidden from the public eye.
To get nursing home residents and their families to sign these agreements, nursing homes typically include them in their admission paperwork, sometimes even requiring them for admission. HHS pointed to the unequal bargaining power that exists when these agreements are given to residents or their families.