The Responsible Thing to Do About “Responsible Party” Provisions in Nursing Home Agreements: A Proposal for Change on Three Fronts

Nursing homes routinely seek the signature of a family member on nursing home agreements, calling the signer a “responsible party” or sponsor for the resident. Federal Medicare and Medicaid law provides that participating facilities must “not require a third party guarantee of payment to the facility as a condition of admission …to, or continued stay, in the facility. “Nonetheless, if federal benefits prove to be unavailable, courts are holding responsible parties contractually liable for thousands of dollars for the care of their elders. This Article proposes private and public responses to the increasing likelihood that nursing homes will seek collection from family members.