Can a Nursing Home Evict a Resident for Nonpayment?

As parents age and require special care, many families turn to nursing homes to make sure their loved ones get the support they need. However, concerns about the possibility of eviction, discharge, or transfer can add stress to an already challenging time.

In this article, we explore the legal aspects of nursing home evictions in Florida, focusing on the rights of residents, when a nursing home can evict a resident for nonpayment, and when a patient can be discharged.

Can a Nursing Home Evict a Resident for Nonpayment?

The fear of eviction is a big concern for anyone with a loved one in a nursing home. In Florida, nursing homes do have the right to evict residents for nonpayment.  However, the process must adhere to specific guidelines.

According to Florida law, nursing homes must follow due process before evicting a resident for nonpayment. This means that the facility must provide sufficient notice. 

In this case, that means written notice to the resident and their legal representative at least 45 days before the planned eviction date. The law requires that the notice must include information about the outstanding balance. It must also include the options available to resolve the issue.

Additionally, during the 45-day notice period, the facility must help the resident apply for Medicaid if the facility accepts Medicaid. It must also help explore potential ways to cover the costs of care. The Medicaid application process can sometimes be very complex.  Having the help of a lawyer well-versed in elder law can be invaluable during this time.

Eviction for Private Pay Care versus Medicaid Paid Care

Regardless of a resident’s payment methods, a nursing home must follow the same legal procedures before proceeding with an eviction.  In times of financial difficulty, it is crucial to communicate openly with the nursing home administration before the situation escalates.  By doing so, they can help with alternative payment options, like applying for Medicaid. 

Medicaid is a government program that pays for long-term care costs, including nursing home care, when a resident can no longer afford to pay privately.  If a patient is already receiving Medicaid benefits for their nursing home care, there are specific regulations in place to protect them from being arbitrarily kicked out or transferred. 

Florida law prohibits nursing homes from evicting, transferring, or discharging a resident based solely on their Medicaid status or due to a change in their payment source from private pay to Medicaid. The nursing facility must have valid reasons. This includes nonpayment, health and safety concerns, endangering other residents, or when the facility can no longer meet the resident’s medical needs.

If a resident on Medicaid is facing discharge due to reasons other than nonpayment, they have the right to appeal and must be granted a fair hearing. During this hearing, the resident can present their case and the nursing home must provide evidence to support their decision.

Transfer or Discharge of a Nursing Home Resident

Nursing homes may also seek to transfer or discharge residents for reasons aside from nonpayment. This may happen when the nursing home finds it cannot meet a resident’s medical needs. Or if they find a resident’s behavior poses a danger to themselves or others.

However, Florida law provides strict guidelines to protect residents. Nursing homes cannot arbitrarily transfer or discharge a resident. 

Before discharging a patient, the nursing home must provide a written discharge notice to the resident or their legal representative. The notice must be at least 30 days in advance, except in cases of emergency. It must say the reason for the discharge and the effective date. Finally, the notice must inform the resident of their right to challenge the discharge.

Similar to evictions for nonpayment, residents have the right to request a fair hearing to contest the proposed discharge. This hearing is an opportunity for the resident to explain why they believe the discharge is unwarranted or to explore other suitable options.

Additional Rights and Protections

It is crucial for families to be aware of their loved one’s rights and protections. In all cases, nursing home residents have the right to:

  • Receive written notices of eviction or discharge with sufficient time to prepare for the transition or challenge the decision.
  • Request a fair hearing to present their side of the story and explore alternatives.
  • Retain legal representation to advocate on their behalf during hearings and proceedings.

Additionally, under Medicare guidelines, nursing home residents have specific rights during the discharge process. When a resident is facing discharge, the nursing home must provide a written notice at least two days in advance. This discharge plan must include the reason for discharge, the effective date, and information on the right to appeal the decision. This ensures that residents have sufficient time to plan and make necessary arrangements for their transition to a new facility or care setting.

Finally, federal law entitles a resident access to a long-term care ombudsman.  In situations where a nursing home seeks to discharge or transfer a patient, a long-term care ombudsman plays a crucial role in safeguarding the resident’s rights and interests.

A long-term care ombudsman is an independent advocate appointed by the state who works to protect and promote the well-being of nursing home residents. When a discharge or transfer is proposed, the ombudsman can step in to review the situation, investigate the circumstances surrounding the decision, and ensure that the resident’s rights are upheld throughout the process.

The long-term care ombudsman can actively participate in the fair hearing process, representing the resident’s interests and helping them navigate the complexities of the situation. They act as a valuable resource for the resident and their family, providing information, guidance, and support during what can be a challenging and overwhelming time. By working closely with the ombudsman, families can ensure that their loved ones’ voices are heard and their rights are protected throughout any discharge or transfer proceedings.

Seeking Legal Assistance

If you believe your loved one is facing an unjust eviction or discharge from a nursing home, it is recommended to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, protect your loved one’s rights, and advocate for their best interests during hearings and appeals.

Residents have rights and protections that prevent arbitrary evictions or discharges, providing them with ample time and opportunities to address any issues raised by the nursing home. Navigating nursing home evictions can be overwhelming and emotionally challenging for families with loved ones in a nursing home facility. 

Remember that the law can vary, and it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to address specific circumstances and ensure the protection of the resident’s rights. By staying informed and seeking legal guidance when needed, families can navigate the complexities of nursing home care and protect their loved one’s well-being.

Contact Friedman Elder Law Department at (954) 866-1055 to get started today.

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