Too many of our nations extremely vulnerable and fragile older adults are being taken complete advantage of by nursing homes. Nursing homes are increasingly being operated by huge corporations (e.g., Wall Street) that aim for profit more than a genuine commitment to providing quality care for residents. Currently, 60% of nursing homes are controlled by for-profit entities, with a growing number run by private equity groups. According to one report, 60% of the homes that have been bought are run by managers who have curtailed nursing staff levels to the point where only one clinical registered nurse must oversee 20 residents. These corporations have pushed nursing home residents to sign forced arbitration clauses that prohibit them from suing, no matter what injustices they have experienced while under nursing home care. These clauses strip residents of their basic constitutional rights, making it extremely difficult for victims to hold a facility accountable for neglect and abuse, while allowing nursing homes to get away with providing minimal care.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have the power to stop nursing homes from receiving federal funding should they include arbitration clauses in their contracts. By going forward with this regulation, the nation’s most vulnerable older adults would regain their basic constitutional rights, and nursing homes would be held accountable for any mistreatment of their residents. Nursing homes should not be allowed to get away with providing minimal care to their residents. Unfortunately, the extremely stressful and emotionally taxing nature of the admission process ensures that most people are unaware when their rights are being violated by these clauses. Now, it’s up to CMS to change this abusive, reprehensible practice.