July 17,2019

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Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515

Wyden, Neal Condemn Trump Nursing Home Rule

New Regulations Would Limit Seniors’ Legal Rights, Democratic Health Leaders Say

WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., today issued a joint statement after the announcement of a final rule by the Trump administration that would ease restrictions on arbitration agreements that nursing homes can use to limit legal action in the event of harm or death of a patient.

“Seniors and their families should not have to sign away their legal rights to be admitted to the nursing home of their choice,” Wyden and Neal said. “The HHS Inspector General has found that one-third of Medicare beneficiaries experience harm within 35 days of entering a skilled nursing facility. It is clear that seniors need more consumer protections – not fewer.”

This rule is yet another extremely concerning Trump administration rollback of consumer protections. The administration’s finalization of this rule eliminates important protections for patients who suffer harm in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. This change would allow nursing facilities to continue to use pre-dispute, binding arbitration agreement clauses at admission asking patients to sign away their legal rights in the event of harm or death.

Despite the final rule’s prohibition on requiring these agreements as a condition of admission, patients may still be coerced into signing away their rights given that many do not have a choice of provider and are vulnerable from suffering a medical condition or incident. These clauses stack the deck against patients and threaten access to safe and high-quality nursing home care.