By: Eric Gonzalez
Do you have a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility? Did you sign admission paperwork on behalf of or in conjunction with your loved one. Has the facility ever tried to charge you for your loved one’s care based on that agreement. If so, that is likely illegal. Many nursing homes use scare tactics to frighten family and friends of a loved one in a facility to pay unpaid facility bills. Don’t fall for these tactics. Keep on reading this article for more information.
Federal law prohibits nursing homes from asking or requiring a third party, i.e., you, to guarantee a patient’s bills. This is the case even when the third party signs an admission agreement on behalf of someone who isn’t competent to sign the admission paperwork on their own. This is also the case even if you state on the forms that you “volunteer” to make those payments. Again, nursing homes cannot ask or volunteer you to make or guarantee payments on behalf of someone else. Furthermore, Colorado does not have any laws on the books requiring family members to pay for loved one’s care.
However, the law isn’t always this clear. There have been cases where courts have required third parties to pay back nursing homes based on the specific language in these types of agreements. While these are few and far between, you should still make sure you don’t fall within any legal ambiguity. And if you fear this might happen to you based on any agreement you previously signed, you should consult your rights with an attorney.
So, you might be asking how to prevent yourself from falling victim to these types of “agreements.” First, always have the prospective resident of the nursing home sign any admission agreement. Do not sign it yourself unless necessary. If you do have to sign the agreement, read the terms of the agreement carefully and make sure it only has you sign it as the resident’s representative and does not place any financial liability on you.
You should also be careful not to sign anything that places responsibility on you to take any actions on behalf of the resident, including applying for Medicaid or paying bills. The agreement is with the resident, not you. If all else fails, you should refuse to sign the agreement as is. Many times, admission agents are amenable to making changes to the agreement to move on with their day. You might be able to amend the terms of the agreement to explicitly prevent nursing homes from coming after you for illegal fees.
Finally, please do consult an attorney for further information or advice on this issue. This article is only an introduction to this topic. It is not the end all be all of nursing home fees. There may be estate, probate and other issues not discussed in this article that merit an attorney’s legal advice.
We hope this article was helpful. Until next time, stay healthy and stay safe.