Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Senator Kohl to Chair Joint Judiciary Subcmte,Aging Cmte on Nursing Home Arbitration

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, June 18, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) will chair a joint hearing on S. 2838, the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008. The legislation, introduced in April by Kohl and Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL), is a narrowly targeted measure that would protect nursing home residents, one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, from losing the right to hold long-term care facilities accountable in court for negligent and abusive care.

Currently, many facilities require residents or their responsible family members to sign contracts that include pre-dispute mandatory arbitration agreements, meaning that any dispute between the resident and the facility will automatically be subject to arbitration. By agreeing to the contract before a dispute ever arises, they are unwittingly signing away their constitutional right to have their case heard by an impartial judge or jury. Additionally, arbitration agreements require that all parts of the legal process remain confidential. As a result, long-term care facilities are often not held publicly accountable for their substandard care.

Ashley GlacelPress SecretarySpecial Committee on AgingSenator Herb Kohl, ChairPh: (202) 224-5364 Cell: (202) 340-3299

Related Articles

Patients hoping to get into nursing homes increasingly are signing away their rights to sue over poor care.

That's a problem, a number of lawmakers say, and they're pushing legislation to make such agreements unenforceable.

The nursing homes say the arbitration arrangements that many families agree to actually lead to dispute resolutions that are more fair than court cases. Lawmakers, however, urged on by consumer advocacy groups and trial lawyers, say families shouldn't be giving away their ability to hold the homes accountable for poor care

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