Can I be removed as responsible party for nursing home agreement?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What if I have already signed a Nursing Home agreement as the responsible party? Can I ask them to remove me as the responsible party?

Expert Answer

If a nursing home participates in either Medicare or Medicaid -- as almost all do -- then the federal Nursing Home Reform Law prohibits it from requiring guaranteed payment from anyone other than the resident -- your parent. This is true even if your parent is not presently covered by either Medicare or Medicaid.

A nursing home that doesn't participate in either of these programs may legally do so, however. And any nursing home may require the person who acts as the power of attorney agent for a resident to sign as the responsible party acting as the agent -- which means responsible to pay out of the resident's assets but not becoming personally responsible.

If you've signed as a personally responsible party for your parent's nursing home residence agreement, and the nursing home participates in Medicare or Medicaid, notify the nursing home that you believe the agreement is unlawful under the federal Nursing Home Reform Law and ask that your name be removed. Even if the facility doesn't participate in Medicare or Medicaid, the agreement you signed might not be a legally binding contract. In either case, you may need to seek help from a lawyer who specializes in elder law. You can find legal help from the non-profit National Senior Citizens Law Center , or from a specialist lawyer referred to you through your local county bar association's lawyer referral service or through the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys .