Nursing homes use lawsuits to demand friends and family pay off medical debts : Shots

Lucille Brooks, a retiree who lives in Pittsford, New York, was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. The nursing home dropped the case after she showed she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him.

Heather Ainsworth for KHN


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Heather Ainsworth for KHN


Lucille Brooks, a retiree who lives in Pittsford, New York, was sued in 2020 for nearly $8,000 by a nursing home that had taken care of her brother. The nursing home dropped the case after she showed she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him.

Heather Ainsworth for KHN

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Lucille Brooks was stunned when she picked up the phone before Christmas two years ago and learned a nursing home was suing her.

“I thought this was crazy,” recalled Brooks, 74, a retiree who lives with her husband in a modest home in the Rochester suburbs. Brooks’ brother had been a resident of the nursing home. But she had no control over his money or authority to make decisions for him. She wondered how she could be on the hook for his nearly $8,000 bill.

Brooks would learn she wasn’t alone. Pursuing unpaid bills, nursing homes across this industrial city have been routinely suing not only residents but their friends and family, a KHN review of court records reveals. The practice has ensnared scores of children, grandchildren, neighbors, and others, many with nearly no financial ties to residents or legal responsibility for their debts.

The lawsuits illuminate a dark corner of America’s larger medical debt crisis, which a KHN-NPR investigation found has touched more than half of all U.S. adults in the past five years.

Litigation is a frequent byproduct. About 1 in 7 adults who have had health care debt say they’ve been threatened with a lawsuit or arrest, according to a nationwide KFF poll conducted for this project. Five percent say they’ve been sued.

The nursing home industry has quietly developed what consumer attorneys and patient advocates say is a pernicious strategy of pursuing family and friends of patients despite federal law that was enacted to protect them from debt collection. “The level of aggression that nursing homes are using to collect unpaid debt is severely increasing,” said Lisa Neeley, a Massachusetts elder law attorney.

In Monroe

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California invoice would demand vaccines for all personnel | Health and Exercise

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California would mandate that all organizations have to have their workers and impartial contractors to get the COVID-19 vaccine below laws announced Friday by Democratic condition lawmakers that was quickly criticized by Republicans as federal government overreach.

Employees or contractors who qualify for healthcare or spiritual exemptions would have to be frequently analyzed below a planned amendment to the monthly bill. New workers would have to get at least just one dose by the time they begin do the job and the second dose within just 45 days of remaining on the task.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks introduced her invoice months just after delaying an original proposal very last tumble. The former model would have permitted staff to post to weekly screening as an choice to getting vaccinated, but that is not an option in her new proposal.

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Vaccines mandates are extremely controversial and there have been several rallies at the condition Capitol in Sacramento opposing these types of needs.

Wicks and other supporters stated the mandate is wanted even as California moves to relieve other necessities and anticipates shifting into a new “endemic” stage that accepts the coronavirus is below to continue to be but is workable as immunity builds.

“That’s basically what this invoice is about,” she reported. “Having back again to some feeling of normalcy so we can go on with our lives, and we never have these consistent interruptions and outbreaks and all these matters that we’ve been enduring for so extensive.”

The mandate would stay in area except if the federal Centers for Sickness Regulate and Avoidance decides that COVID-19 vaccinations are no lengthier needed.

The invoice would call for point out wellbeing and occupational safety officials to advise employers on what qualifies as a professional medical affliction, disability, religious belief and valid vaccination status. Firms that didn’t comply would deal with penalties that have nevertheless to be established.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher claimed he is vaccinated and urges other folks to also get their pictures.

“But telling people today they just can’t feed their spouse and children unless of course they get the vaccine is just wrong,” Gallagher explained. “I have faith in Californians sufficient to take care of them like older people who can make their very own health care selections. It is regrettable that a couple of Democrats

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