Beware of Nursing Home Contract Deception

The Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. represents potential residents and their families in navigating the often difficult and daunting task of getting a loved one into a nursing home while protecting the resident’s rights as granted under both Illinois and United States codes and regulations. While Nursing Home representatives will tell you that the Admissions Agreement is a “standard form” and therefore nothing to be concerned about, frequently nothing could be further from the truth. Nursing Home Admissions Agreements or Contracts and the numerous exhibits, attachments and schedules are in fact not standard, with each Nursing Home having it’s own standard contract that is revised on a regular basis. A Resident or Resident’s representative should never sign a Nursing Home Admissions Agreement or Contract without first having it reviewed and the terms explained to you by an experienced elder law attorney. 

Call the Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Elder Law Attorney.

WHY HAVE AN ATTORNEY REVIEW THE NURSING HOME CONTRACT OR ADMISSIONS AGREEMENT?

With costs averaging between $7,000 to $20,000 a month, for an unknown time period, it is probably one of the largest financial transactions of your life whether you are the Resident, Resident’s spouse or Resident’s Responsible Party, and you could end up paying the bill. The contract defines what care the Resident is going to receive, and frequently will have waivers of liability of various types if they fail to actually provide the care. If a contract is filled with waivers for negligent acts of the facility and for abusive actions by it’s staff shouldn’t that be a warning to you if you are trusting your loved one to them?

Potential Residents and their families should understand that at some facilities an essential part of the Nursing Home Admissions process is a deliberate attempt to deceive you into unknowingly waiving your rights under both Federal and Illinois law. While not all facilities engage in this practice, most facility contracts now contain at least some provisions that are designed to fool you when you are the most vulnerable. Instead of putting the offending provision in clear and unambiguous language, the provision will be designed so that it must be read and interpreted in the light of one or more additional provisions which are scattered throughout the document in order to understand the impact on you and your family.

Admission agreements frequently misstate the law in a way that is designed to disadvantage residents. The following is a list of typical provisions contained in Nursing Home Admission Agreements or Contracts which are either attempts to get Residents to waive their rights under the Nursing Home Reform Act and other federal and Illinois laws, or the provisions are improper and in direct violation of such laws.

Provisions which limit visitation by family members to posted hours or reserving the right to limit visitors.

Provisions which state that Resident shall arrange for direct payment of their income including social security to the facility.

Provisions or statements that if you don’t agree to the Arbitration Clause the facility can deny you entry.

Requiring a “Responsible Party” to sign the contract where numerous provisions in the contract might result in personal liability of the Responsible Party.

Provisions frequently shown as standard waiver, where the Resident and all family members waive any right to damages for injuries sustained by the Resident even where the injury is the facility’s fault including injuries which result in Resident’s death.

Contrary to facility’s statements that it will help you get Medicaid when the money runs out, most contracts make it clear that the Resident and Resident’s Responsible Party are solely responsible for applying for Medicaid.

Provisions which state that even if the facility assists you in submitting a Medicaid application, if it is denied, even if the denial is the result of errors or omissions of the facility, the facility is not responsible and the Resident and Resident’s Responsible Party are personally liable to the facility for the full private pay rate.

Provisions which characterize falling, choking, and other traumatic events as an inevitable part of nursing home life

Provisions or verbal statements that a Resident must agree to pay the private pay rate for a certain period of time.

Provisions requiring Resident and Resident’s Responsible Party to spend all Resident’s funds on the facility and making both liable for any expenditure of funds not authorized by facility.

Provisions which require a Resident to provide a deposit if they are receiving Medicare or Medicaid.

Provision whereby Resident promises not to apply or become eligible for Medicaid benefits in the future.
It is important that you know the Resident’s rights prior to signing a Nursing Home Admissions Agreements or Contracts. Do not get deceived into believing that the Nursing Home only wants what is best for the Resident and that the terms and provisions of the Nursing Home Admissions Agreements or Contracts reflect that. In truth if the Nursing Home Admissions Agreements or Contracts are an indicator, then the Nursing Home wants your money and your family’s as well, and in return makes no promises as to the care your loved one will receive or that they won’t be injured or killed. Therefore, prior to signing a Nursing Home Admissions Agreements or Contracts the Resident and Resident’s family should have the contract reviewed by an elder law attorney. 

Call the Law Office of James C. Siebert & Associates, P.C. /Elder Law & Estate Planning Attorneys of Illinois, P.C. at (847)253-7500 today to schedule an appointment with an experienced Elder Law Attorney.

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