As many of you may suspect, Wall Street companies may not have nursing home residents’ best interests in mind. In fact, one study has found that in 60 percent of these homes purchased by Wall Street companies, managers were told to cut the staff at the nursing homes so severely that the number of nurses to residents became 20 to one, as in one single RN for every 20 residents.
Perhaps that’s why Paul Bland, Executive Director of Public Justice, recently took to the Huffington Post in an advocacy piece titled, “Corporate America’s Latest Target: Nursing Home Patients.”
Here’s What You Need to Know:
Forced arbitration clauses are a Wall Street favorite that may be unnecessarily keeping American consumers at a disadvantage, disallowing them from taking legal action if a powerful company has hurt them.
These clauses used to be common in credit card and cell phone agreements. Now, families are apt to find these clauses in nursing home contracts, too. That’s right: As if we need one more thing to worry about when we’re admitting our elderly loved one to a nursing home for the first time!
Unfortunately, the majority of Americans who sign contracts that include forced arbitration clauses do not know what they are getting themselves into. They do not understand that they are effectively giving up their right to hold the company accountable via legal action – EVEN is the company does something terrible. Instead, they’ll discover this harsh reality when they’ve been seriously hurt by the corporation or nursing home in question that they decide to pursue legal action. At that point, they may find that they are forced into pursuing arbitration, a biased and in no way parallel alternative to the courtroom that is bought and paid for by powerful companies who not only decide the arbitrator (or, "judge") but also pay the arbitrator for his or her services, too.
It’s a system that was originally designed for only business-to-business disputes, meaning: Disputes between two entities with equal power. But in the 1980s, Wall Street Corporations decided to push their customers into these same agreements, primarily meaning a single individual with a dispute would have to face a Goliath of a company to be heard. With arbitration, consumers aren’t heard. Their disputes with the company are not made public. And there is very little evidence that companies who require their customers to face arbitration ever learn from their mistakes — why would they, after all, they aren’t being held accountable in a courtroom.
Paul Bland announced that Public Justice has submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that encourage CMS to disallow federal funding for nursing homes that use arbitration clauses. This would be a very important step in the right direction of taking better care of some of our nation’s most vulnerable and their families.
Never forget that taking legal action is a constitutional right. We can’t let Wall Street continue to overstep our fundamental rights to a day in court. And we cannot continue to allow Wall Street to force families whose elderly loved one was seriously hurt, abused or neglected in a nursing home into arbitration.
And by the way, Wall Street: In a competitive market, isn’t it customer input and complaints that drive progress forward?
We think it’s time that elderly residents and their families are heard just as loud and clear as Wall Street.
Help us spread the word about dangerous arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements by sharing this blog. You may also read and share Bland’s piece for yourself, here.
Forced Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Contracts Take Away Resident’s Rights.