By Cynthia Wilson
Have you heard of filial responsibility laws? If you haven’t rest assured you will if vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposals become a reality.
Currently 29 states and Puerto Rico have filial responsibility laws that require children to pay the health care debts of indigent parents? That means if a court declares you responsible for your parent’s unpaid debts you could face a fine, which may be the least of your worries. Some states allow criminal charges and jail time for not paying the bills.
I agree with Ryan that we must cut Medicare spending to sustain the program that is a safety-net for most Americans. But I don’t agree with Ryan’s plan to fix the problem with spending cuts alone. And I don’t support privatizing the system.
Ryan says he doesn’t want to raise taxes. However, the middle-class will adversely feel the economic effects of his solution for Medicare reform because more adult children will become directly responsible for their parent’s health care debts because of filial responsibility laws, which a federal appeals court has upheld based on a case out of Pennsylvania.
I go into more detail about filial responsibility laws in my new book “Who Will Take Care of Mom? A Guide for Family-Managed Senior Care,” and how it will affect the middle-class. The book also shares time-tested solutions that will help many families mitigate the effects of filial responsibility laws.