Often we all feel frustrated by not being able to get the ‘government’ to change things that are wrong. You have that opportunity TODAY.
On July 25, the New York Times published a powerful editorial calling on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ban pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home contracts in its final nursing home rules. There have been previous attempts to get Congress to change. All have been unsuccessful. Industry and insurance companies do not want you to be able to have a jury of your peers decide issues of nursing home abuse. Their influence in congress is huge. Instead, nursing homes almost universally require residents to sign arbitration clauses that take away their right to a jury trial in the event they suffer injury or abuse while in the facility. Consumer Voice, a consumer advocacy group for nursing home residents and the elderly has , has launched a campaign to ban pre-dispute arbitration clauses and is asking for support. Take action by signing their petition HERE.
By taking advantage of Consumer Voice’s letter , the New York Times editorial gives consumers a great opportunity to advocate for strong nursing home regulations- nursing home regulations that will remove these unfair arbitration clauses. Please sign Consumer Voice’s letter to CMS calling for the agency to ban pre-dispute arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements once and for all. Anyone can sign on – local, state, national organizations AND individuals. Enter your information and submit to Consumer Voice by 5:00 PM ET today Friday, July 29.
For those of you reading this who have not been subjected to the horrors of arbitration clauses in consumer matter, arbitration is a process in which a dispute – such as a dispute regarding poor care, abuse or neglect – is settled by one or more arbitrators who decide the outcome instead of a jury made up of members of the community. “Pre-dispute” arbitration means that the consumer must agree to arbitration before any dispute arises. Often the ‘agreement’ requires that the arbitrators be chosen from those in the nursing home industry. In Alabama, our Supreme Court has recognized arbitration agreements even when the resident did not sign- maybe a family member happened to sign when the multiple admission papers when their loved one is admitted. There is little or no discussion of what is being signed- or whether the family member even has authority to sign. But they are enforced. Other states are similar. Even if the pre-dispute arbitration agreements are discussed, the family is faced with whether to admit their loved one or being forced individuals to make a decision without any information at all about what may happen in the future. Such a decision is made at the time of admission, a very stressful time, is not fair when the issue is the care and treatment to be provided. They are not needed to provide care. These arbitration agreements strip individuals of their constitutional right to a trial by jury. Where else are constitutional rights so ignored?
Civil litigation attorney Billy Cunningham practice concentrates on personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse, business litigation, environmental law and insurance matters. He is licensed to practice in the state and federal courts of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as in the U.S. Court of Military Appeals, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.