Trump Administration Wants to Take Away Right to Sue Nursing Homes

You’ve probably signed away your right to sue your cell phone carrier, your cable company, and maybe your doctor and dentist too. Instead, if you have a complaint, you’re required to take it to arbitration, whether you want to or not.

How do they get away with this? Mostly by giving you no choice. You probably have only one cable company to choose from. There are four big cell phone carriers, but they all mandate arbitration. And it’s so common among doctors that you’d have a hard time finding one who doesn’t require it. In practice, they require it because they have enough market power to make it stick.

It’s ironic, then, that nursing homes don’t like it when someone with even more market power than them turns the tables:

In October 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided to push back on mandatory arbitration. By rule, CMS adopted a novel “condition of participation” for Medicare and Medicaid. Nursing homes that participate in the programs—which is to say, all nursing homes—could no longer ask their residents to sign away their right to sue upon entering the nursing home.

….Predictably, the nursing home industry sued, arguing that the rule exceeded CMS’s authority….Then President Trump took office. In early June, with little fanfare or notice, the administration dismissed the appeal and proposed to undo the change altogether. “Upon reconsideration, we believe that 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.”

That’s from Nicholas Bagley, who says, “With health reform dominating the news, this volte-face has been overlooked. That’s a shame: it’s a big deal.” He promises to dive into it in more depth over the next couple of weeks.