Are You Going To Pay For Your Mother’s Nursing Home Bill?

A senior entered a nursing home for rehabilitation following
a car crash. After she left the nursing home, the $93,000 bill at the home was
left unpaid.  She had applied for Medicaid, which would normally pay the
bill if she couldn’t. However, the Medicaid application did not get approved in
enough time to satisfy the nursing home, and it sued her son for the bill,
states Forbes Magazine.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like 29 others in our
country, has something called a “filial responsibility law”.  Those laws
require that spouses, children and even parents of needy adults support the
indigent.  These laws were rarely ever enforced.  The nursing
home decided to enforce it rather than have Medicaid do what it was
designed to do.

The trial court found for the nursing home.  They
appealed and argued that the court should have considered Medicaid or going
after the husband and her two other adult children.  The appeals court not
only agreed that the nursing home didn’t have to wait until the Medicaid claim
was resolved, it also found that the nursing home could choose any family
member it wanted to when seeking payment for the bill.

There is an adage in the law:  You can’t legislate
morality. However that is exactly what the Pennsylvania courts in this case. 
If a son or daughter has the money and wants to pay for mom or dad’s care,
that’s an upright choice.  But what if they choose not to pay? What if
they have their own expenses, kids in college or a retirement they want to
fund?  Since when is it okay to unfairly discriminate against a
financially successful family member

Some parents have worked hard all their lives and never made
enough money to pay for expensive things like nursing home care.

A quarter of adult children, mostly baby boomers are already
providing personal care or financial assistance to aging parents, according the
the Met Life Mature Market 2011 study of the Caregiving Costs to Working
Caregivers. These boomers are already out nearly $3 trillion in lost wages,
pension, and Social Security benefits for themselves. Now some states want to
saddle these same adult children with the nursing home bill too??

The pressure is on in all states to deal with the explosive
costs of Medicaid programs. States are not in trouble because of people
are living longer, and having more health care needs as a result of longevity.
Our aging persons who are in nursing homes for any length of time typically
can’t pay the cost of being there.  The solution is not to force the high
cost of care onto their children.  Historically, taxpayers have borne the
burden of helping our indigent pay for care.  I can’t see any other
choice, unless you think it’s okay to throw the sick and needy out into the
streets.

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