Thursday, February 14, 2013

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Arbitration Agreements

In a 7-0 decision today, the Florida Supreme Court held that an arbitration agreement executed by the resident is binding on the estate/heirs of the decedent/resident. The question presented was whether an arbitration provision in an otherwise valid contract binds the signing party’s estate and heirs in a subsequent wrongful death case. In its unanimous decision, Justices found that arbitration agreements should be followed in such wrongful-death cases, upholding a decision by the 5th District Court of Appeal. "Because the signing party’s estate and heirs are bound by defenses that could be raised in a personal injury suit brought by the decedent, as well as by releases signed by the decedent, it would be anomalous to conclude that they are not also bound by a choice of forum agreement signed by the decedent in a wrongful death action arising out of the treatment and care of the decedent."

FHCA strongly supports the use of arbitration agreements as a reasonable, intelligent option for patients, residents, and providers seeking more timely and less adversarial resolution of legal disputes. In addition, arbitration ensures that scarce health care resources go toward delivering resident care rather than the escalating costs associated with lawsuits.

Over 60 percent of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid as their safety net to cover their long term health care needs. Today, facilities are losing an average of $22.81 per patient per day (nearly $550,000 annually) due to chronic Medicaid underfunding. Lengthy, costly litigation adds to the chronic funding challenges already facing the long term care sector and drives up costs for residents, facilities and ultimately taxpayers.

“We believe that fair and timely resolution to any legal concerns is in the best interest of the residents, taxpayers and the state’s entire health care sector.” said Emmett Reed, FHCA Executive Director. “Despite our funding challenges, FHCA's member nursing homes and assisted living facilities remain committed to excellence and make the delivery of high-quality care for the thousands of individuals residing in their facilities a top priority.”

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