See: How nursing homes keep friends and family on the hook for residents

Barbara Robinson was trying to help her mother’s friend sign up for Medicaid and move into the Monroe County Nursing Home in Rochester, New York. But because Robinson signed the admission form, the nursing home considered him financially responsible for the woman’s care, Anna Warner reported for CBS News. After the woman’s death, the county sued Robinson for $21,000 in unpaid bills.

This report was done in partnership with the KHN-NPR investigation into America’s medical debt crisis. Noam N. Levy, the KHN senior correspondent, writes about Lucille Brooks, another woman sued by Monroe County, this time over her brother’s nursing home bills.

Following unpaid bills, nursing homes across Rochester are routinely suing not only residents, but their friends and family, a KHN review of court records reveals. In most cases, those prosecuted did not have an attorney. In about a third, nursing homes won default judgments because the defendants never responded.

Consumer attorneys in California, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Ohio told KHN they regularly see cases like this against family and friends.

Judge Debra Martin dismissed the case against Robinson. He advised the county, saying his case presented without documentation, “does not meet the minimum requirements.”

Brooks is now in the clear after the county dropped the case against him.

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