Are Adult Children Responsible for their Parents’ Nursing Home Bills?

 My clients’ adult children  frequently ask me if they will be responsible for their parents’ nursing home bills, especially if their parents die before Medicaid claims are resolved.  Certainly, the billing departments of those facilities – and occasionally their collection agencies – would lead them to think so. 

Arizona does not have a “filial responsibility” statute creating this obligation, but many states do.  Howard Gleckman, a former Business Week reporter and the author of “Caring for Our Parents,”  has observed that, while these filial responsibilities have been on the law books of many states for years, they are now increasingly being enforced.  He notes a recent case from Pennsylvania, in which the court ruled that a facility could arbitrarily go after any family member it wanted, as long as it could prove that relative had the resources to pay.

In the face of tight budgets, we are finding that Medicaid agencies are becoming more and more strict on procedural requirements and issues of medical eligibility, so that they can deny, or at least delay, more of these increasingly expensive claims for long term care.  Is this the next frontier?   Read Gleckman’s blog  for more about this topic.

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