|Posted:||December 8, 2020 02:42 PM|
|From:||Representative Anthony M. DeLuca|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Updating Pennsylvania’s Filial Obligation Law|
|Were you aware that under Pennsylvania’s current filial obligation law you can be held liable to pay your parent’s medical bills even if you do not have a relationship with them? It’s true.
Filial obligation laws have, as their premise, that a spouse, child or parent of an indigent person has a responsibility to care for or financially assist them. These laws date back to 16th-century English Poor Laws.
While many other states have repealed such laws, and most others ignore them, Pennsylvania’s statute is being used increasingly to force adult children to pay for their parents' nursing home care regardless of their current personal relationship.
The existing law does not apply if the indigent person's family is financially unable to pay or a child's parent abandons them for 10 years or more during childhood.
Granted those caveats, however, when a child becomes an adult it doesn't matter what kind of relationship they currently have, and the child could be held responsible to pay for their care.
And judges make the determination on financial ability.
Recent court rulings have set precedent for nursing homes and or patients' family members to sue other relatives for payment. In most cases, though, the law is not being used by family members, but by large commercial entities. Many times the lawsuit comes after a substantial amount is owed. We must change this archaic law.
To make the statute more reasonable, my bill allows only two situations where a spouse, child, or parent of a sick person can be sued: The sick person colludes with the spouse, child, or parent to hide assets within the past five years; or the spouse, child, or parent of the sick person does not cooperate in the Medicaid process.
Please join me in updating our filial obligation law. Your action may prevent an unfair and heavily burdensome lawsuit on you or one of your loved ones.
Introduced as HB169