But Maryland's filial support law comes into play when a parent is under the care of a state psychiatric hospital, Frank said. If the parent is under age 65, the state can use the law to get children to reimburse the state for the parent's care, Frank said.

Frank said it's unfair, and possibly unconstitutional, to force a child who didn't agree to be liable to pay a parent's care bills.

"How can you be civilly liable for money owed just because you were born?" he said.

Frank said the country doesn't need filial support laws, but rather a solution to long-term care.

AARP, the advocate for those age 50 and older, hasn't taken a position on the issue, said Sally Hurme, an elder-law attorney with the group.

"This topic could be an opportunity for families to have a conversation about the parents' ability to pay for long-term care," Hurme said. "Have they adequately saved? Are they going to need to go on Medicaid?"

And it could cause adult children to consider what they can do now to make sure parents have the resources to pay for nursing home care in the future, Hurme said.

"That's a good family conversation," she said.

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

twitter.com/eileenambrose

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