This week, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will hear arguments regarding the “2008 Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act” (S. 2838). This act would eliminate pre-dispute binding mandatory arbitration (BMA) clauses in nursing home contracts. Without this legislation, senior citizens will be denied the right to a jury trial in the event of abuse or neglect. Nursing homes will also avoid public accountability and exposure for such abuse, as arbitration hearings are kept private and confidential. It is for these reasons that we as citizens must speak out in favor of this bill.
I am writing to urge you to support the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act, S. 2838, introduced by Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fl.). This important legislation would eliminate pre-dispute binding mandatory arbitration (BMA) clauses in nursing home contracts.
Binding mandatory arbitration clauses have been showing up in credit card, employment, and insurance contracts, and now they are being used to take advantage of the elderly and their families – by blocking residents from taking nursing homes to court and holding them accountable for harmful practices. BMA benefits nursing homes at the expense of the elderly because they use it as a means to evade accountability and limit their economic liability for any harm they cause.
There are several reasons why the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act needs to be passed.
First, most nursing-home residents and their families are unaware of arbitration clauses in admission documents. And they wouldn’t be permitted to negotiate the clauses even if they knew about them.
Second, the lack of any meaningful review of arbitration decisions creates a climate ripe for abuse. The arbitration process is secretive and the courts have little involvement. This bill would allow the courts to decide the enforceability of these binding mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts.
Third, arbitration companies are beholden to the nursing homes that hire them for repeat business, which creates a bias. For example, public data published in Public Citizen’s report “The Arbitration Trap: How Credit Card Companies Ensnare Consumers” show that one California arbitrator decided 526 of 532 cases in favor of business — a mere 1.14 percent for the ordinary consumer.
It’s time to enact the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act and restore accountability for nursing homes that don’t take care of their residents.
Thank you for listening to a constituent. I look forward to your reply.
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I encourage you to take a minute and electronically send this letter to your state senator. I would also encourage you to email the form to as many people as possible. We must speak for those who do not have a voice. In this case we must stand up for elderly men and women that do not realize the implications of the “fine print” on the nursing home admission form. This “fine print” is simply a loop hole for million-dollar elder care facilities to continue “business as usual” without having to worry about bad press or lawsuits in the event of abuse or neglect.
Thislegislation is the only way to force bad nursing homes to clean up their act, rather than putting a legal muzzle on innocent victims of abuse and neglect. Therefore, please take this opportunity to tell your representatives that you support the 2008 Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act and urge him/her to act quickly to pass this important bill.
Thank you in advance for your support regarding this urgent matter!