CMS, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau take action against nursing home debt collectors

CMS and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a joint letter Sept. 8 stating that nursing care facilities may not require a third-party caregiver to personally guarantee payment of a nursing home resident's bill as a condition of the resident's admission to the facility.

The letter comes after 24 licensed facilities in New York filed debt collection cases that targeted family and friends of the residents.

Requiring family or friends to be personally responsible for the debt of a nursing home resident and making subsequent attempts to collect debts from caregivers may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the CFPB stated.

"Nursing homes that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are prohibited from forcing a resident's family or friends to assume responsibility for the cost of care as a condition of admission or continued stay in the facility," CFPB director Rohit Chopra said in the release. "Debt collectors must take steps to ensure they are not violating the law by collecting on invalid nursing home debts."

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