FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2017
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Albuquerque, NM – This morning, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas released a statement in response to President Trump’s plan to end a rule allowing nursing home residents to sue for abuse, neglect or sexual assault. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it will eliminate the rule that prohibits nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid funds from including language in their contracts with residents stating that disputes must be settled by a third party instead of a court.
“New Mexico families should not be forced to choose between care for their loved ones and giving up their legal rights,” Attorney General Balderas said. “Arbitration clauses deny
vulnerable people access to the courts and allow bad actors to hide from the public and avoid the accountability ensured by our justice system.”
In arbitration proceedings, there is no transparency or open record that may act to warn the public of unsafe practices or alert authorities to patterns of harm. They prevent other consumers from finding out about the claims of consumers who have suffered harm or even death.
Balderas continued, “The potential for unfairness is heightened in the nursing home context, where arbitration clauses are buried in lengthy admissions paperwork. When people enter a nursing facility, they are often transported from a hospital, ill, medicated, and need care. They do not have a meaningful opportunity or resources to negotiate over legal clauses. Oftentimes, these clauses are not explained to the consumer, or explained by a non-attorney and they are forced to sign it or risk being turned away. Our office believes strongly that arbitration clauses in nursing home admissions paperwork should be disallowed at the federal level.”
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