In a skilled nursing facility, what happens when a resident runs out of money?
There are many factors involved. Are they privately funded? Have they applied for Medicaid? Regardless, there is a law that may be beneficial to skilled nursing facilities when it comes to collecting unpaid balances.
According to federal law, the children of those living in a skilled nursing facility or long-term care facility are under no legal obligation to pay for their parents’ care. 
However, in Pennsylvania, there is a filial support law that has been legal since Colonial times. Put into applicable terms today, it gives skilled nursing facilities the legal option to seek financial help from the children of their residents who need assistance in paying their long-term care bills. 
Twenty-nine other states share similar laws that could be put into effect, although enforcement in these states has been rare. But these laws do abide. And with Medicaid programs spread thin causing states to become more demanding of payment, this could be a future option for providers. 
Under Pennsylvania’s filial support law, the parents must be deemed “indigent,” and the child has to have the financial means to pay the bill, which is to be determined by a judge.
With this law, there are more benefits to a skilled nursing facility than receiving payment on an outstanding balance.
John Kennedy is a lawyer in Harrisburg, Pa., and has represented long-term care facilities in hundreds of cases.
He says many care providers have used the law as leverage to get the children of residents to gather financial information for their ailing parents who can no longer do so themselves.
In addition, they have used the law to urge families into filling out Medicaid and Medicare paperwork on their parents’ behalf. Tasks such as these are often unable to be done by the residents, resulting in unpaid bills that Medicaid or Medicare may have covered.
Do you see filial support laws as an asset to skilled nursing facilities as budgets become more constricted?
 LaMar, Scott. “Encore: Who is responsible for paying for long-term care?” witf. Web. 9 July 2012.
 English, Taunya. “Nursing homes ask adult children to pay up for parents.” NewsWorks. Web. 9 July 2012.
 “Are You on the Hook for Mom’s Nursing-Home Bills?” Wall Street Journal. Web. 9 July 2012.