A Feb. 21 opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the validity and enforceability of pre-dispute arbitration agreements between nursing facilities and their residents.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA), which supports the use of voluntary pre-dispute arbitration agreements, applauded the decision in the case of Clarksburg Nursing & Rehabilitation Care v. Marchio.

“The Supreme Court of the U.S. has made clear that it is both legal and appropriate for nursing homes and patients to use pre-dispute arbitration agreements,” said Gov. Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

“It is affirming to us that the Supreme Court understands and enforces arbitration agreements to provide more timely and less adversarial conclusions, thus allowing facility staff to focus their time and effort on what is really important—quality patient care,” he said.

AHCA and the West Virginia Health Care Association  have both been involved with the case, whose central issue is whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) protects pre-dispute arbitration when there are claims of personal injury or wrongful death.

AHCA submitted an amicus brief to the West Virginia Supreme Court, which decided last June that Congress “did not intend for the FAA to protect these types of arbitration agreements from state interference,” making them unenforceable, AHCA said in a statement on the Supreme Court opinion.