The Senate Finance Committee passed the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, S. 2838 which notably abolishes mandatory arbitration clauses and establishes a nationwide system of background checks to stop convicted felons from working in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The bill is now going before the full Senate. The legislation puts in place a system of background checks and encourages federal and state coordination. It will utilize the FBI’s national database and state police records in order to effectively screen potential care-givers for criminal history. The criminal background checks will prevent common incidents involving: sex abuse, physical abuse and neglect.
Nursing home arbitration clauses have been a sneaky secret inserted into admission documents for unsuspecting nursing home residents and their families. The arbitration clauses attempt to force cases involving nursing home injury or death to be resolved before an arbitrator as opposed to being able to have their case heard in court. In many circumstances the arbitrators are actually paid by the nursing homes–hardly impartial.
The Watchdog Blog and specifically blog authors, David Arkush and Christine Hines did a nice job describing how the nursing home industry did its best to misrepresent the importance of a right to jury trial for nursing home cases. Arkush and Hines sum it up best when describing the intentions of nursing home owners attempts to continue with mandatory arbitration, ‘We’re corporate lobbyists fighting for the right to neglect or abuse elderly nursing home residents with impunity. Our corporate clients want to make millions in profits without worrying about being held accountable if they hurt people.’
Call your senator and tell him or her to vote to support the Fairness In Nursing Home Arbitration Act.