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Paying for Nursing Home Care

Not all nursing homes are created equal. Each Chicago nursing home abuse attorney at our firm often shares information about state nursing home violations as well as data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s “Nursing Home Compare” website. The quality of care data makes clear that some facilities far outperform others when it comes to keeping residents safe, secure, and happy.

Unfortunately, the difference between aging in place, living in a high quality home, or moving into a chronically negligent facility often comes down to finances. Paying for nursing home care can be daunting. For most families, Medicaid help is needed. Medicaid is the joint federal and state program that provides for low-income residents. When many seniors become ill and need long-term care, they are often forced to “spend down” their assets to qualify for the program–if they do not already.

However, our Illinois nursing home attorneys know that in a few, very rare, instances, adult children may actually be forced to pay for the care of their parents.

Filial Laws
For example, the Wall Street Journal published a story last week on one nursing home’s use of these, often ignored laws, that may allow facilities to hold children responsible for long-term care debts owed by parents. In the recent high-profile case, an appellate court in Pennsylvania found that a nursing home could seek to collect a nearly $100,000 bill from adult son of a former resident. The filial laws in the state require the creditor to prove that the senior is “indigent” and the child has the means to pay the bill to prevail. In that case, the senior had no money and the son was deemed capable of paying as a result of his $85,000 annual salary.

Legal observers across the country were shocked by the decision, because these filial laws are rarely used. In fact, in the few instances where an entity seeks to recover per the statute, it is usually only to force an adult child to help a senior with Medicaid application paperwork. Actually seeking to collect payment is very uncommon. Though, if successful, more nursing home may attempt to take this route.

Can this happen in Illinois?

Twenty nine states have filial laws, however, Illinois is not one of them. That means that a local nursing home would likely be unable to force any child to provide resources for parents.

However, the lack of a legal requirement does not mean that adult children don’t often help their parents with these issues. In most cases, it is the adult child who arranges for a nursing home move-in and works with the senior to ensure they qualify for Medicaid. Our Chicago else abuse lawyers remind all local families to be careful during the selection process. It is best to be as educated as possible about the care provided at various facilities. Not only should proximity to friends and family be taken into consideration, but staffing levels, bed sore development rates, and other data should be weighed when deciding what home is best for your loved one.

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