Many Maryland nursing homes and long-term care facilities request that an incoming resident agrees to an arbitration clause as part of the admissions contract. An arbitration agreement prohibits residents from bringing certain negligence or other civil claims to court and instead forces them to be heard by a third-party arbitrator. The arbitrator does not need to be a judge, and arbitration appears to favor the nursing home companies over aggrieved residents and their families.
Because Nursing home admissions agreements are legal contracts, if an individual who is being admitted to a nursing home is incapacitated or mentally unable to assent to the contract, a family member may be able to sign on their behalf. In 2019, the Federal government passed regulations that regulated nursing homes’ use of arbitration agreements. These regulations only apply to nursing homes that accept Medicare payments, which includes the majority of Maryland nursing homes. Under the 2019 regulations, a family member may assent to an arbitration agreement as part of the admission process to a nursing home.
What a nursing home may not want you to know, however, is that the 2019 Federal regulations also prohibit nursing homes from requiring that residents agree to an arbitration clause as a condition of admission. Although this is the law, many nursing homes continue to require residents and their families to accept arbitration agreements as part of an admissions contract. Some families may not even know there is an arbitration clause hiding in the many documents that must be reviewed and signed when admitting a loved one.