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The following are intended to improve health care for Americans:

1) The government will institute a program rating nursing homes in order to assist consumers in selecting a nursing home for a loved one. The ratings will be available on a website. Ratings will be another tool to aid consumers and to encourage health care systems to improve their quality of care. Additionally, sprinkler systems will be mandated for all nursing home by a certain date.

2) The Senate is evaluating “arbitration clauses” which prevent lawsuits when injuries occur in nursing homes. The clauses require patients and their families to enter into binding arbitration to resolve complaints. Such contracts, which the nursing homes are insisting be signed on a patient’s admission, are frequently signed under duress. Arbitration is quicker and less expensive, and sponsors of the legislation believe that, while arbitration should be a viable option, that patients should not be foreclosed from filing a lawsuit if they so choose.

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