In a December 2021 decision from the Iowa Court of Appeals, a woman who fought for months to get her husband on Medicaid was held responsible for his remaining nursing home bill when he died soon after his application was approved. The court’s decision hinged on a 100-year old case and the definition of ‘family expense.’ The case is styled, Bethany Lutheran Health Services v. Cumpston (Iowa Ct. App., No. 20-1700, Dec. 15, 2021).
In early 2017, Dean entered a nursing home. Patricia, acting as Dean’s authorized representative, executed the residency agreement with the nursing home.
Six months later, Patricia filed an application for Medicaid benefits on Dean’s behalf. It was denied and several more applications were submitted before one was eventually accepted.Dean died about three months later. The nursing home filed suit against Patricia, seeking Dean’s unpaid balance.
Patricia argued that part of the nursing home charges were for non-medical things, such as living quarters, laundry, and maintenance. The nursing home responded that these other things were necessary to provide medical care to Dean. Patricia lost the argument and the appeals court ruled that Dean’s nursing home expenses were reasonable and necessary family expenses. As such, Patricia was liable for the bill.
To learn more about this important case in Iowa, check out this article at www.ElderLawAnswers.com.
To see the full text of the case, head over to the Iowa Courts website.