Leahy Praises Administration's Rule, Issued Tonight, To End Forced Arbitration In Long-Term Care Facilities

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee,
On the Administration’s Long-Term Care Facility Rule and Forced Arbitration

September 28, 2016

[The Department of Health and Human Services has published its final regulations for long-term care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid. Among the new regulations is a prohibition on binding arbitration clauses in the agreements between patients and facilities. The ban on forced arbitration was recommended by Senator Leahy and other Democratic Senators last year in a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. Senator Leahy has long raised concerns about the practice of forced arbitration, including in hearings of the Senate Judiciary Committee he convened in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2013. He also recently sent a letter to Wells Fargo’s CEO, asking him to immediately cease the practice of using forced arbitration. Senator Leahy is also a long-time co-sponsor of the Arbitration Fairness Act, S. 1133, and introduced the Restoring Statutory Rights Act, S. 2506, earlier this year.]

“I applaud the Department of Health and Human Services for banning the use of forced arbitration clauses by long-term care facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs. It is simply unacceptable to provide taxpayer dollars to organizations that deny consumers their day in court. Today’s rule is a small but important victory in the long battle to root out these secretive, complicated arbitration clauses that favor corporate interests over consumer rights.

“Too often, long-term care facilities require potential residents and their families to decide whether to waive their legal rights by signing mandatory arbitration clauses that are slipped into a contract and written in legal jargon. These clauses are not in the interest of the consumer, yet the sad reality is that today too many Americans must choose between forfeiting their legal rights and getting adequate medical care. Ensuring that nursing home residents have access to information about potential safety concerns should be of paramount importance.”

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