HHS Announces Nursing Home Debt Protections

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday its intent to further protect nursing home residents from illegal debt collections. The announcement came alongside a joint letter released alongside the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

According to the HHS press release, some nursing homes are not in compliance with “federal law that prohibits nursing homes from requiring family members or caregivers to guarantee payment for a resident’s nursing home stay.” The release adds that some facilities have attempted to evade the law by using admissions contracts to hold third parties liable for resident debt.

“A caregiver making difficult decisions about their loved one’s future should have the peace of mind of knowing nursing homes won’t illegally coerce a family into assuming liability for medical debt,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We expect nursing homes to act responsibly and comply with the law. HHS continues to follow through on President Biden’s commitment to improving the safety and quality of nursing homes.”

The announcement also detailed several of recent efforts by HHS to improve nursing home care. These include a commitment to launch a rulemaking to regulate nursing home staffing requirements, a proposal for background checks for nursing home owners, and improvements to nursing home comparison resources.