Nursing homes exist for the purpose of caring for our beloved elders, not for taking advantage of them. Misleading residents and their families about fees or failing to inform them of the available services for which they’ve paid is a type of fraud. Fortunately, residents of nursing homes are protected from financial abuse under state and federal laws. If you feel your loved one has been taken advantage of by the nursing home, you will want to consult a lawyer to discuss how to take action.
Residents’ Rights to Clear Payment Information
The United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and the Revised Code of Washington all protect nursing home residents’ financial rights. There is a long list of rights patients have in regard to fees and charges. If you’re unsure of your and your loved one’s rights, you can contact the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program or speak to a nursing home abuse attorney in your area.
Below are a few examples of payment-related rights nursing homes residents are provided.
- They must be notified, in writing, when they are eligible for Medicaid/Medicare.
- They must be informed of available services. (Specifically, WAC 388-97-0300 provides that nursing homes need to inform the residents of “items, services and activities available in the nursing home and of charges for those services, including any charges for services not covered under Medicare or Medicaid or by the home’s per diem rate.”)
- They must be informed of what portion of the deposits, admissions fees, prepaid charges or minimum stay fee will be refunded if residents leave the nursing home.
- They cannot be charged for items or services they didn’t request.
- They must not be solicited for any item or services that Medicaid/Medicare covers (other than deductibles and co-insurance payments).
- When the patient or his or her family request an item or service, the nursing home must tell them that they will be charged and what the charge will be.
- The patient and his or her family must be given advance notice of transfers, deposits and refunds.
Common Ways Nursing Homes Mislead Patients
An estimated 1.6 million people reside in 17,000 nursing homes around the nation, and 11,000 of the facilities are for-profit businesses, reports ABC News. While many nursing homes truly care about the well-being of their residents, others are sidetracked by financial motivations.
Our firm pursues nursing home lawsuits for residents who’ve been neglected or abused financially, physically, sexually or emotionally. We periodically receive calls from clients when unethical nursing home administrators have tried to take advantage of them financially. Below are some of the common ways they’ve been wronged.
- The nursing home tries to cut corners by not telling patients about all the services for which they pay. If your monthly fees include counseling for example, the administrators might conveniently fail to tell you that counseling is available, hoping you’re none the wiser. Services you paid for but that they don’t render improves their bottom-line.
- They overcharge residents, charge them for items they didn’t request or double charge them.
- They offer services or items without telling them there will be a charge.
- They try to bill patients for things Medicaid/Medicare already covered.
What to Do about a Misleading or Dishonest Nursing Home
Make no mistake — taking an advantage of vulnerable elders, such as breaching financial duties, is a form of exploitation. It’s fraudulent; it’s elder abuse, and it’s illegal. Nursing home administrators that purposefully take advantage of residents for financial gain are subject to criminal and civil action.
If you believe your loved one’s nursing home is misleading you about fees or hasn’t fulfilled its duty to inform, please contact our law office, Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC, for a free consultation in Washington. We can tell you how to file a complaint and explain your legal options. Call us today at 844-920-2438.