Clients routinely ask if they can be forced to pay for a parent's nursing home bills. The current answer in Pennsylvania is YES--under certain circumstances. Filial support laws under 23 Pa.C.S.A. 4603 can be used to require children, parents, and spouses to pay for a parent's health care costs (not just limited to nursing home bills). Two recent events are worth noting:
1. Eori v. Eori is a 2015 case where a child used Pennsylvania's filial support law to require assistance in paying from one of his siblings. (Here, the child of an indigent parent used the law to require payment from one of his siblings to support a parent.) The twist in this case is that the parent was residing at home and receiving caregiver supports in a home setting. Had she been in a nursing home, Medicaid Long-Term Care would have been available to meet her entire cost of care. However, the Court here permitted use of the filial support laws to require assistance to pay for in-home care. The scary feature of this case is that the action wasn't brought by a nursing home or other medical provider, but by a sibling seeking contribution from another sibling.
2. Pennsylvania House Bill 242 was introduced in January 2015, which would repeal Pennsylvania's filial support law, freeing many children from fear of exposure to this sort of situation, but further action on the bill has not been taken.