AHCA/NCAL - Arbitration a “Reasonable, Intelligent Option” to Resolve Eldercare-Related Legal Disputes; More Medicaid Resources Preserved for Patients, Not Legal Costs
Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act Discriminates Against Long Term Care Patients, Providers
Washington, DC – Stating the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008 “needlessly discriminates against long term care providers and the patients and residents in our nation’s nursing facilities and assisted living residences,” the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights that pre-dispute arbitration agreements are a solid legal option for long term care consumers and providers, and their use should not be eliminated.
Kelley Rice-Schild, the owner, operator and administrator of the Floridean Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Miami, FL – founded by her great-grandmother in 1944, and the oldest nursing home in Miami – said the mission in her family-owned facility, “is to meet and exceed the expectations of our residents and their families” by providing the highest quality care possible.
“Like the vast majority of Americans, AHCA/NCAL believes that legislative proposals to limit arbitration and undermine the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) represent bad public policy. We strongly support the use of arbitration as a reasonable, intelligent option for both patients and providers to help assist in the resolution of legal disputes, and aggressively oppose efforts to diminish the use of arbitration by American businesses, especially those unfairly targeting long term care consumers and providers.”
In her testimony, Rice-Schild remarked that the troubling anecdotes presented at today’s hearing represent the exception instead of the rule within the long term care community. “AHCA/NCAL has been working diligently to change the debate regarding long term care to focus on quality… and has been actively engaged in a broad range of activities which seek to enhance the overall performance and excellence of the entire long term care sector,” she said.
Stated Rice-Schild: “We believe that the recently introduced Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008 (H.R. 6126 and S. 2838) is a misguided attempt to restrict and weaken the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). We firmly believe this legislation and other efforts to undermine the FAA are bad public policy and a step in the wrong direction.”
“AHCA/NCAL supports the use of arbitration because unlike traditional litigation, our members have experienced arbitration as more efficient, less adversarial, and having a reduced time to settlement,” Rice-Schild observed. In addition, because it vastly reduces transaction costs, “arbitration may also enable patients and their families to retain a greater proportion of any financial settlement than with traditional litigation.”
She further noted that the success of arbitration has helped take pressure off of the chronically under funded Medicaid program, and has helped ensure more public resources are preserved for the use of the intended recipients: frail, elderly and disabled Americans.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represent more than 11,000 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.