Will Adult Children Have to Pay Parent’s Nursing Home Cost?
A recent court case out of the state of Pennsylvania has really gotten my attention which I wanted to bring to all of yours.
A Pennsylvania state appeals court has rules that the adult son of a nursing home resident is responsible for her unpaid $93,000 bill. Pennsylvania is one of 30 states to have filial responsibility statues. Florida is not listed as one of these 30 but some (including elder care lawyers) fear this is just the beginning of a trend.
About two-thirds of those 30 states, including Pennsylvania, allow long-term care providers to sue family members to recover unpaid costs. The reaming one-third have no recovery provision but failing to care for a parent is considered a criminal offense.
This case for the $93,000 bill involved a woman who spent six months in a nursing home facility recovering from an auto accident. She had monthly Social Security and pension income of only $1,000. This amount is far less than her cost of care, and while she applied for Medicaid, that process can take many months, and in this case, she left the facility while her Medicaid application was still pending.
As a result, the nursing home facility sued her son for her unpaid bill. He argued that she had some income so she was not indigent, but even if she was, other family members also had an obligation to help and all the burden should not have been placed on him.
However, the appeals court disagreed. They said in Pennsylvania someone does not have to be destitute to be indigent. Family members are responsible even if she has income, but has insufficient means to pay for her own care. The court also ruled that the facility could arbitrarily go after any family member is wanted, as longs as it could prove that relative had the resources to pay.
Although these filial responsibility laws have been around for many decades, they have rarely been enforced… but that may be changing. With the cost of long-term care continues rising (an average nursing home facility stay now exceeds $200 a day), senior service providers are finding themselves with more unpaid bills than in the past.
If you would like more information on this case, please visit the Elder Law Answers website which is which brought this to my attention.
Abe Glickman, LTCA, LTCP
Member: AALTCI, NAHU, NAIFA, SOA
Abe Glickman Insurance Group
Toll-Free Phone: 877-298-5824
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