Thursday, April 11, 2013

Am I my parent’s keeper?

Am I my parent’s keeper? I just read an interesting story about one Pennsylvania son who was hit with his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill. John Pittas’ mother entered a nursing home for rehabilitation following a car crash. After she left the nursing home, she moved out of the country. His mother’s $93,000 bill at the home was left unpaid. The mom had applied for Medicaid, which would normally pay the bill if she couldn’t. The mom’s Medicaid application did not get approved in enough time to satisfy the nursing home, and it sued her son for the bill. The state 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. Mr. Pittas lost in trial court and appealed stating that the bill should go to his mother’s husband or other two adult children. Unfortunately, the appellate court did not agree and went further to state that the nursing home didn’t have to wait until the Medicaid claim was resolved and that the nursing home could choose any family member it wanted to when seeking payment for the bill. So my question to you reader is, is that “fair”? 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? Should a child’s own financial portfolio be a factor? Since when is it okay to unfairly discriminate against a financially successful family member?