Children Liable for Parent’s Medical Costs
Pennsylvania is among many states with a filial support law on the books. However, in 2012, Pennsylvania was the first state to use that statute to hold a child liable for approximately $93,000 of his mother’s nursing home bill. The seminal case is named Pittas v. HCR (click here for the full decision).
Pennsylvania’s law reads in part “all of the following individuals have the responsibility to care for and maintain or financially assist an indigent person, regardless of whether the indigent person is a public charge: (i) the spouse of an indigent person, (ii) a child of the indigent person; and (iii) a parent of the indigent person.”
The fundamental component to any claim for support is that there must be an unpaid debt. These debts can arise from improperly filed Medicaid applications, causing delayed, denied, or discontinued benefits. While Medicaid is not reimbursing the nursing facility for costs incurred and care provided, a liability continues to grow at several hundred dollars per day. A properly filed Medicaid application prevents these liabilities from occurring and avoids a child, spouse, or parent from being responsible.