Arbitration Agreements Help Nursing Homes Put Profit First

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on July 22, 2020 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Updated on April 24, 2024

female masked nursing home residentThe use of arbitration agreements in nursing home contracts may not be completely new, but not everyone is aware of how they help long-term facilities get off the hook for substandard care.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, an ambulance transported an 87-year-old woman who was suffering from COVID-19 to the Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center. The elderly woman, who was struggling to breathe and using an oxygen tank, was given a 23-page admissions document to read and sign. The sick woman signed it without ever realizing what she was agreeing to.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the woman’s daughter was furious when she learned about the document, which stated, “This Agreement Waives The Right To a Trial By Jury.”

The 87-year-old’s daughter said, “I was so angry when I saw what that document was. It made me feel that there was going to be no accountability.”

How Widespread is the Use of Arbitration Agreements?

Amid the continued spread of the coronavirus, nursing homes around the country are now using these agreements to prevent civil lawsuits from wrongful death or negligence. Many of these long-term care facilities already have a history of reported health and safety violations. Yet the only avenue of resolution for these injured or neglected patients and their families is a meeting with a third-party arbitrator, typically paid for by a nursing home or its parent company.

2019 analysis by the American Association for Justice says victims and their families have very little chance of winning any monetary award through this process. Rather, the non-profit advocacy organization said people would have a better chance of being hit by lightening.

Canyon is just one of multiple facilities run by parent company, Genesis Healthcare, and these arbitration agreements are standard at all facilities run by this company. Genesis is one of the biggest for-profit nursing home chains in the states, and it has been repeatedly referred to by the U.S. Department of Justice as an “unscrupulous provider” and one that is noted for providing “grossly substandard nursing care.”

National studies show that, to date, approximately 70 percent of nursing home residents signed an arbitration agreement.

Canyon Received Large Sums of Financial Awards Despite One-Star Rating

In spite of its one-star health rating, Canyon was recently awarded a multi-million-dollar contract by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. For those who may not be aware, one star is the lowest score given by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

That contract, valued at up to $1.3 million per month, was in exchange for the 73-bed facility to agree to house only patients who were COVID-19 positive.

Why These Contracts Are So Dangerous

Without the ability to be able to pursue a civil lawsuit for any wrongdoing on the part of a nursing home, facilities may further relax their standards without fear of being held accountable. The use of arbitration agreements poses a great danger to the health of nursing home residents. These contracts could cause an increase in incidents of negligence and abuse, especially in facilities where there is already a history of substandard care. 

Former President Obama banned the use of nursing home arbitration agreements in 2016. However, just last year, President Trump revisited the ban and overturned it.

David Hoey, a noted nursing home expert for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging says, “It’s almost a license to neglect or abuse, because if they do neglect or abuse, they can’t be sued.”

If You Need Legal Assistance, Our Attorneys Are Prepared to Help

The reputable attorneys at PKSD Law are dedicated in their fight against nursing home negligence and abuse. Our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers have a combined legal experience of over 150 years, and we have represented vulnerable and elderly victims and their families throughout the state.

We provide injured victims with a FREE initial consultation, which allows us to learn how we may be able to help you. It also gives you an opportunity to get answers to your legal questions in a confidential environment. There is no obligation to file a claim after this meeting. However, if we represent you, there are no upfront costs and nothing to pay for our services unless we recover compensation for you.

Get help with your potential nursing home claim today. Call: 414-333-3333

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