In a blog post last week, I introduced you to "filial responsibility laws", laws that have the potential to be used by government to force children to aid in the payment of their parent's bills, specifically the cost of long term care.  I knew it would not take long for examples to pop up.

Forbes reports on a case where a son was ordered to pay $93,000 toward his mother's long term care cost!  

Could this happen to you?

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.

The trial court found for the nursing home.  Mr. Pittas appealed. He argued  that the court should have considered  Medicaid or going after his mother’s husband and her two other adult children.  Astonishingly, the appeals court not only agreed that the nursing home didn’t have to wait until the Medicaid claim was resolved, it also found that the nursing home could choose any family member it wanted to when seeking payment for the bill.

Well, could this happen to you in Virginia?

Yes.  Stay tuned for my next post and I will explain the current law in Virginia.