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Trump Targets Rule That Helps Seniors

Donald Trump’s latest attack on the rights of average Americans is about to land on some of the most vulnerable, senior citizens living in nursing homes. During the Obama administration, the government changed rules for certain eldercare facilities to allow lawsuits. Following years of horror stories of neglect and abuse at various facilities which had contractual clauses mandating outside arbitration, the government took away the power of certain facilities to bind their residents to arbitration rather than being able to use the legal system. Now Trump wants to roll back that rule so that the elderly can’t sure their facilities anymore. According to The Hill,

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans in June to do away with an Obama-era rule that prohibited nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid funds from including language in their resident contracts requiring that disputes be settled by a third party rather than a court.”

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The cruelty of this is remarkable. There’s also a great deal of irony. Trump’s own mother was an immigrant who came to the United States from Scotland. She urged her husband to be more involved in philanthropy. One project that Fred Trump and his son Donald underwrote at the behest of Mary Trump was The Trump Pavilion for Nursing and Rehabilitation, a nursing home built in 1975, long before Donald was a household name. Donald does not own the building.

The move is garnering a backlash on Capitol Hill. The Consumerist reported on Monday that 31 Senators, led by Al Franken and other prominent Democrats, sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services calling on them to reconsider the rule change. The letter said,

“Forced arbitration clauses in nursing home agreements stack the deck against residents and their families who face a wide range of potential harms, including physical abuse and neglect, sexual assault, and even wrongful death at the hands of those working in and managing long-term care facilities. These clauses prevent many of our country’s most vulnerable individuals from seeking justice in a court of law, and instead funnel all types of legal claims, no matter how egregious, into a privatized dispute resolution system that is often biased toward the nursing home. As a result, victims and their families are frequently denied any accountability for clear instances of wrongdoing.”

It was not immediately clear why Trump would go after this particular rule. If he does roll back the Obama-era rule change, it is likely to be highly unpopular and cause even further backlash. Only the owners of private nursing homes would benefit, which suggests that there may be a conflict of interest.

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