McArthur Law Firm

Will New HHS Rules Protect Senior Citizens from Nursing Home Abuse?

Nursing home abuse is becoming more and more common in our area every year. Recently, we brought you the news of local nursing home management company New Beginnings and the closing of several of its nursing homes. Government officials said they found substandard conditions and abuse at these facilities and they have continued to shutdown many of those operations, but why haven't we heard about these conditions before the government got involved?

Will New Rules Help Stop Nursing Home Abuse?

iStock_54531544_LARGE-768x513.jpgThere's a little dirty secret in the nursing home industry, and you probably wouldn't know about it unless you tried to sue a nursing home for abuse or neglect. This secret is called the forced arbitration clause, and it's allowing nursing homes to get away with murder.

You see, a forced arbitration clause strips you of your constitutional right to take a party that wronged you to court. Instead, you are forced into the arbitration system where a company with deep pockets can hire a biased arbitrator to rule against you. Those companies can also seal the arbitration records to keep your claims from becoming public knowledge.

Does that sound unfair? Well, that's because it's not, and because forced arbitration is legal, there is little anyone can do about it. Forced arbitration clauses have shown up in all sorts of contracts. From cellphone contracts to cable signups and health care agreements, these clauses are everywhere, and that includes nursing homes. However, it might not be a part of the nursing home industry for much longer.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a new rule due to come out in November. This new rule will forbid nursing homes that accept federal money from using forced arbitration clauses in their admission contracts. This means that if senior citizens are abused, their families can sue the nursing home facility instead of going to arbitration-where they are less likely to get a fair settlement-but the nursing home industry is fighting back.

Nursing homes say that this new rule will cause litigation that will force several nursing homes to close. However, advocates for this rule say it will prevent nursing homes from hiding neglect and abuse. Do you think they're right? Will this new rule help expose more elder abuse, or are law makers grasping at straws? Your Macon personal injury attorneys can't wait to hear what you think about this on Facebook and Twitter.

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