Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pennsylvania Court Ruling Allowing Support Action Against Adult Children For Parents' Nursing Home Costs Allowed to Stand

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declined to hear a Pennsylvania man's appeal of a lower court ruling that held that the man was responsible for payment of his mother's $93,000 nursing home bill under Pennsylvania's "filial responsibility law."

In the case, Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, John Pittas's mother entered a Pennsylvania nursing home car after being in an auto accident. She subsequently left the nursing home and moved to Greece, leaving an unpaid bill of approximately $93,000.  Relying on Pennsylvania's filial support law, which requires adult children to provide support for indigent parents, the nursing home sued Mr. Pitta for payment of his mother's bill.  The nursing home prevailed at trial, with the verdict upheld by an appellate court and now by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania is one of 29 states that presently has filial support laws on the books. As shown by this map, New York is not one of them. However, while these laws have been rarely enforced to date, the result in the Pittas case may well lead to an explosion in filial support claims as cash-strapped nursing homes seek to recover for patients' unpaid bills, and states such as New York that presently do not have filial support laws on the books may consider such legislation as a means to reduce reliance on Medicaid expenditures for nursing home care.

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