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No Personal Liability

Published on March 1st, 2020

New York’s News10NBC did some impressive investigative reporting recently on a new trend of nursing homes improperly suing the friends and families of residents whether they’re dead or alive. In the lawsuits, the nursing homes say they are owed money for the care they give to residents and that family or friends are personally liable for the debt.  This is absurd.  The nursing homes should ask for reimbursement from Medicaid or Medicare.

They are suing these people because they were forced to sign an admission agreement when their loved one moved into a nursing home.  The nursing homes and their lawyers also accuse relatives and friends of “hiding money” and threatening them with criminal prosecution.  Anna Anderson, a lawyer with Law NY, a non-profit legal office in Rochester, represents many of these people.

Yes the resident likely owes something,” Anderson said. “But that does not mean the nursing home can pursue whomever the resident knew and was helping to try to collect on this bill.”

42 CFR 483.12(d)(2) states: The facility must not require a third-party guarantee of payment to the facility as a condition of admission or expedited admission, or continued stay in the facility. However, the facility may require an individual who has legal access to a resident’s income or resources available to pay for facility care to sign a contract, without incurring personal financial liability, to provide facility payment from the resident’s income or resources.

42 CFR 483.12(d)(3) states: In the case of a person eligible for Medicaid, a nursing facility must not charge, solicit, accept, or receive, in addition to any amount otherwise required to be paid under the State plan, any gift, money, donation, or other consideration as a precondition of admission, expedited admission or continued stay in the facility.

Nursing facilities cannot require a personal financial guarantee as a condition of admitting a family member. Like other provisions of the Nursing Home Reform Law, this guarantor prohibition applies to all residents of any nursing home that accepts Medicare and/or Medicaid. Thus, if a nursing home accepts either Medicare or Medicaid, this law applies whether the resident is eligible for Medicare or Medicaid payment, or pays personally for her nursing home care. See Hillside Manor Rehabilitation & Extended Care Ctr., LLC v. Barnes, 2010 NY Slip Op 50966(U) (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 2010).

South Carolina does not have a filial responsibility law or a law that makes an adult child responsible to provide support for an indigent or impoverished parent seeking support from the government, a nursing home or to help pay for medical bills.

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