Deciding to place a family member in a nursing home is a very stressful and emotional decision. Adding to the stress, the process to admit your loved one to a nursing home will include a long, detailed contract that must be signed before the admission can take place. If you are the family member’s legal guardian or have their financial power of attorney, it is legal for the nursing home contract to require that you pay nursing-home bills from that family member’s money and assets.
There are legal protections for caregivers regarding nursing home and care facility admissions paperwork. The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act prohibits certain types of conduct by long term care facilities that participate in Medicare and/or Medicaid in 42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B. Section 483.15. Before you sign a nursing home admissions contract you should:
• Read the contract carefully.
• Make a list of questions and ask a facility representative to explain anything you don’t understand.
• Decline to sign the contract until you fully understand all provisions in the contract.
1. Do not sign a nursing home contract that requires you to guarantee payment with your own money. Language such as “responsible party” or “guarantor” can be a way for a nursing home to attempt to guarantee payment of nursing home bills.
2. A nursing home contract cannot require that the patient decline government assistance like Medicare or Medicaid, or require the patient to say they are ineligible for those benefits.
3. The nursing home must take reasonable steps to protect the patient’s personal property. Do not sign a provision that waives the nursing home’s liability for lost or stolen personal items.
4. Do not agree to arbitration of disputes. An arbitration provision is not illegal, but if you sign it you are giving up your right to go to court to resolve a dispute with the facility.
5. Fully understand the nursing home’s eviction procedures, Federal law governs when Medicaid residents can be transferred or discharged or evicted from their nursing home.
It’s a good idea to meet with an experienced elder law attorney if your spouse, parent, or other family member needs nursing home care, and to discuss under what circumstances family members can become liable for a parent or child’s unpaid cost of nursing home care.
Do you have questions about elder law in Illinois? Our experienced elder law attorneys understand applicable laws and advise you on the best options to protect an elderly or disabled person in a nursing home. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-800-0112.