Tucson No Sue Agreements

“No Sue” Agreements in Nursing Homes, An Uncertain Future

If you have a loved one in a nursing home or are considering placing a person in a nursing facility, you need to be aware of the rights of patients and their families. Laws are in place to protect the welfare of patients and provide for legal recourse for families of patients who may have been abused or otherwise mistreated. Some nursing homes, however, have been including “no sue” agreements in their patient acceptance paperwork.

These “no-sue” agreements state that neither the patient nor the family may sue the nursing home in court in the event of abuse or mistreatment; instead, the parties must agree to third-party arbitration.

These “no sue” agreements ended in 2016 with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulation that stopped the practice — at least in facilities that are recipients of Medicare or Medicaid funding. Of course, many nursing homes receive such funding. This consumer-protection regulation was signed into effect in 2016, but now the future of that rule is already in jeopardy.

Why is this Rule Now in Jeopardy?

Once the regulation was signed, the American Health Care Association got together with a group of nursing homes to sue the CMS, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, to prevent them from enforcing the rule. Now, under a new administration, the CMS in June of 2017, announced plans to do away with the Obama-era legislation. This would once again allow nursing homes to include “no sue” agreements in their paperwork, even if they receive federal funding, and would once again prevent families from pursuing legal action against these nursing homes, even in cases of extreme abuse.

In explaining its new position, the CMS stated:

“Upon further consideration, arbitration agreements are, in fact, advantageous to both providers and beneficiaries because they allow for the expeditious resolution of claims without the costs and expense of litigation.”

This reverses a stance CMS took just a year earlier.

A Strong Response

This elicited a strong response from a number of patient advocacy and consumer groups which quickly formed the “Fair Arbitration Now Coalition.”

These groups feel strongly that people who are placing a loved one in a nursing facility are often under time or financial pressure. They sometimes need to make decisions quickly. Under this pressure, they may be all too willing to give up future rights to sue, to simply get a loved one taken care of promptly. Opponents believe this gives nursing homes an unfair advantage in coercing them to sign the no-sue agreements.

This is another important patient’s right debate that we at the Khalidi Law firm are keeping an eye on.

Working to Make the World a Better, Safer Place

If you believe someone you care about has suffered some form of nursing home abuse, we encourage you to contact us. The Khalidi Law Firm is a family law and civil litigation firm based in downtown Tucson. Since 1994, we have built a solid reputation for our practical and honest approach to practicing law. We are a small firm and we can’t accept every case. However, if you believe you or a family member has been wronged, contact us. We believe through our work we are helping make the world a better and safer place.