Federal Step to Protect Long-Term Care Facility Patients’ Rights

The Becker Law Office applauds the work of Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-GA) for re-introducing the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2013 (S. 878; H.R. 1844) to the 113th Congress. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to ban the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in long-term care facility patient admission contracts and to allow patients injured, abused or neglected in a long-term care facility to pursue their claims in a court of law.

These mandatory arbitration agreements, which are often-times buried in the middle of an patient admission contract and frequently not seen nor understood by the patient’s family, deny long-term care facility patients their Constitutional guarantee to a right to a trial by jury by instead forcing neglect, abuse or sub-standard care claims to be arbitrated rather than pursued in a court of law.

Robyn Grant, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, explained, “[w]hen long-term care consumers are denied the option of holding facilities accountable through an open and unbiased legal process, the well-being of all residents suffers as a result.”

Just this year, the Kentucky Legislature attempted to pass a similar measure denying patients their right to a jury trial. With the full support of the nursing home and long-term care facility industries as evidenced by the media onslaught from their lobbyists, the proposed legislation would require an injured, abused or neglected patient to first submit their claims to a medical review panel for review and approval before being allowed to proceed to a court of law. Thankfully, the attempt by long-term care facilities and nursing homes to thwart our Constitutional guarantees in Kentucky was unsuccessful.

This issue will continue to rear its ugly head as the nursing home and long-term care facilities attempt to avoid liability by denying patients and their families’ access to courts of law. Contact your state and federal Representatives and Senators to voice your support for banning the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in long-term care facility patient admission contracts. The Becker Law Office will always voice its fervent support for the Constitution and the right to jury trial, and we will continue to fight for the rights of those injured, abused or neglected patients in long-term care facilities.