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Investigation Finds Nursing Homes Targeting Family and Friends to Collect on Residents’ Debt

Posted on in Estate Planning

Connecticut elder law attorneyAt Ivey, Barnum & O'Mara, LLC, we encourage all of our clients to make sure they have an estate plan in place, no matter what their level of income and assets are. Estate planning not only includes having tools in place that will address issues when you have passed, such as having a will and naming an executor, but there are also steps you can take that will address elder care issues. Not only will these steps protect the assets you do have, but they can also help protect your loved ones from unscrupulous nursing homes that attempt to collect nursing home debt from residents’ family members.

Nursing Home Debt Collection

A recent investigation into medical debt by Kaiser Health Network (KHN) and National Public Radio (NPR) found that one in seven adults who have medical debt have been threatened with lawsuits and even jail by the creditors they owe bills to. This aggressive collection technique has spilled over into the nursing home industry, which has made it part of their collection process to harass family and friends of residents, trying to collect unpaid debt from them, despite the fact that there are federal laws in place protecting family members from just this type of activity.

The KHN-NPR investigation found this type of illegal activity taking place all over the country. To demonstrate how rampant it is, the report highlighted statics from one county in New York. According to court records, 24 nursing homes in Monroe County filed almost 240 debt collection lawsuits seeking almost $8 million.

Almost two-thirds of these lawsuits were filed against relatives or friends of the resident. Many of these lawsuits made unfounded accusations against these parties of hiding the resident’s assets. The rest of the lawsuits were filed against the resident or their spouses. The amount of these lawsuits ranged from tens of thousands of dollars upward to $100,000.

In the majority of cases reviewed by KHN-NPR, the people who were named in these lawsuits did not have attorneys representing them, often because they could not afford to hire one. In almost a third of the cases, the nursing homes won default judgments because the people being sued never responded to the lawsuits. Even more troubling, the nursing homes were seeking interest rates as high as 18 percent on top of the debt they were suing to collect.

Contact a Metro New York Area Estate Planning Attorney

The KHN-NPR investigation demonstrates just how important it is for seniors to work with a Greenwich, CT elder law attorney in setting up a comprehensive estate plan that will eliminate these types of situations for their loved ones. Make sure that not only your assets are protected, but your loved ones are, as well. Call Ivey, Barnum & O'Mara, LLC at 203-661-6000 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.





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