Of all the anti-arbitration bills in Congress this year, long considered the most likely to pass is the one to vitiate pre-dispute abritration clauses in nursing home contracts -- the appeal to emotion is stronger. Once you get the legislative precedent, the future bills will move more easily.
So it's no surprise that today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted out S.2838, the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (introduced by Sen. Mel Martinez, the Florida Republican and trial lawyer).
The American Association of Justice hailed the bill's progress in a release, quoting AAJ President Les Weisbrod: "The practice of mandatory arbitration in nursing home contracts is one that preys on vulnerable seniors and their families when they are making tough decisions about long-term care. It is a system deliberately designed to take advantage of the weakest members of our society in order to pad the profits of greedy nursing home corporations."
The American Health Care Association issued a release criticizing the legislation, citing a "diverse coalition of senior, caregiver and taxpayer advocacy groups." Bruce Yarwood, President and CEO of the AHCA said: "This new legislation ostensibly helping seniors has drawn an unusually diverse, broad cross section of opposition because it not only undermines seniors' care needs, it restricts consumers' ability to exercise free choice." Lisa Rickard of the Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform gets her say, as well.
This could become one of the trial lawyers' real successes this session, helping to return to past practices the kept disputes in the courts, lengthy and expensive.