News Item

sb2 Wins Appeal: Children are Liable for Parents' Medical Expenses in Pennsylvania

New PA Appellate Ruling Upholds Filial Responsibility Law

On May 7, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a child can be personally liable for a parent's long-term care costs while a nursing home seeks to compel that child to assist in qualifying a parent for Medicaid. This decision, which impacts sb2 clients in Pennsylvania and the 30 other states with filial support statutes, is the first appellate court ruling in favor of Pennsylvania's Filial Responsibility Law since the Legislature enacted new provisions in 200S. 

In this case, sb's client, HCR ManorCare, initially sought relief in qualifying a resident for Medicaid by asking the trial court to compel her son, John, to assist in the application process. However, after John refused to comply with multiple court orders mandating his assistance in qualifying his mother for Medicaid, sb2 was forced to ask the trial court to hold him personally responsible, which the trial court d id. Importantly, if John had complied with the attempts to qualify his mother for Medicaid, the case would have ended there. 
In ruling in favor of sb, the Superior Court upheld 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4603, entitled "Relatives' Liability," holding that an organization can use the law to hold a child liable for the outstanding debt incurred as a result of a parent's treatment and care, and not just to qualify the parent for Medicaid. 
sb2's philosophy has always been to use the FRL as a means of compelling cooperation in the Medicaid application process. But, in this case, after John steadfastly refused to assist, the court saw fit to move forward with a trial and held John personally responsible for the amount owed. This is a wake-up call for all Pennsylvanians, and an issue of great importance to all nursing homes. If a family member of a resident refuses to pursue Medicaid, then that person may be held personally liable for the debt to the facility! 
sb2 believes this is an exciting and far-reaching ruling that can affect our clients in significant ways. Please visit to register for our Webinar on June 4th at 11AM where we will discuss this case and it's impact on our clients. 
Best Regards, 
Chad Bogar