Nursing Home Debts.

Question: A nursing home has sent me a statement for my uncle’s expenses with a note that they need to be paid. The statement is for the last 8 months. Why would they have waited this long to ask for money? I haven’t signed any papers nor am I on any of his financial accounts. Are they out of luck with collecting this debt? I’ve got my own financial troubles to deal with so I’m not willing to be responsible for anyone else.

Answer: Under federal law, a nursing home participating in the Medicare/ Medicaid programs cannot require a guarantee from a relative for ANY patient, whether a Medicare/ Medicaid patient or not. Under state law, you have no liability for the debts of another absent a signed writing to that effect. So you have no liability whatever. Furthermore, the attempt to bill you may be unlawful. I would not ignore the bill but write back asking for a copy of anything you signed undertaking to pay this debt. Also, check your credit reports to make sure the debt does not appear on it. If they do not go away, or the debt is on your credit report, you may have a claim, and should contact us.

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