Repeal ORC 2919.21 So That Adult Children Are Not Bankrupted For Elderly Parent Care

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Ohio is one of 30 states that will go after adult children for payment of care costs for aging parents on Medicare/Medicaid. In contrast to other states, Ohio treats this as a criminal matter with the first offense a misdemeanor, the second, a felony. 

Most adult children faced with these lawsuits are attempting to build their own retirement, fund college education for their own children and may have other debts restricting their means of payment. They are part of the “sandwich” generation: still responsible for their own children, while having to take on care of elderly parents.

A payment schedule found online puts a family of 4 with a $22k annual income (below poverty rate) responsible for more than $300/mo in payments. Any income above this is responsible for the entire bill.

If the child lives in Ohio, they can be sued if the parent(s) live in another state. Conversely, if the parent lives in Ohio, those children living out of state can also be sued.

This is due to one line in Ohio Revised Code 2919.21. It requires care for elderly impoverished, which has translated to payment for devastating medical costs of those elderly and impoverished. The cases that had been dismissed are only those of parental abuse or abandonment as a minor. 

What is not fair is that parents that did not contribute to college, weddings, grandchildren, left no inheritances or otherwise...they are getting those bills paid by the adult children that never received that support as adults. The court arguments only address treatment as minors. These bills are being paid by those who have been estranged adding insult to injury. Parents can be bad people as adults and to force payment for the alcoholic, addict, emotionally, verbally, physically or financially abusive parent is just not moral.

In the case of the petitioner’s best friend, the mother lived in Ohio, was poor, qualified for Medicaid; however, due to never getting a final divorce 20 years ago, due to lack of funds, the father was brought in. Once it was determined no money could be obtained from the spouse, the nursing home went after the daughter, who resides in Kentucky, to the tune of $60k.

While many states won’t impoverish children with the burden of their parents’ medical care bills, Ohio and Pennsylvania are two of the more nastier states that will criminally prosecute and use liens and garnishments. 

Siblings can also sue each other under this statute. Children may have had zero input or knowledge of financial transactions for medical care, but can still be legally required to pay those bills under this Ohio law. This is unfair and an undue burden on children who are not the Power of Attorney holders, as it’s well known that not everyone is forthcoming to all siblings with that information. This is especially true in families that have tensions and dysfunction without the additional layer of potential financial responsibility.

To make matters worse, this law is fairly obscure, but thanks to healthcare costs, it’s being used and abused  much more to the surprise and chagrin of adult children nationwide.

Repeal 2919.21 so that adult children can invest in the future instead of paying for the past.



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