Fear of losing their independence and way of life is a tremendous concern among Connecticut seniors. And, in today’s COVID-19 environment – knowing how the virus can easily spread throughout a nursing home and to its vulnerable population – staying at home is a preferable option for many.
But if you’re like so many Connecticut residents, you may not know that there is Medicaid coverage for receiving care at home – that Medicaid benefits are not just for nursing home residents. This is great news!
The Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders
The State of Connecticut recognizes the benefits of helping older adults stay home and relieving the strain on family caregivers. One option that allows seniors to stay at home is the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE). There are 2 programs under the umbrella of CHPE: 1) the state-funded program; and 2) the Medicaid Waiver. The Medicaid Waiver, funded by federal and state governments that for over 30 years, has been helping seniors remain in the community and delay or avoid nursing home placement. The state-funded program is for those with fewer functional needs and/or more income and assets than the Medicaid requirements.
According to the Department of Social Services, to be eligible for CHCPE individuals must be:
- 65 years of age or older
- A Connecticut resident
- Functionally at risk of nursing home placement
- Financially eligible based on income and assets
Depending on an individual’s needs, the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders offers a variety of services including:
- Homemaker/companion services
- Visiting nurse services
- Home health services
- Home delivered meals
- Adult day care
- Emergency response system
- Accompaniment to medical appointments
These services can begin once an application is approved and a representative from the state has visited the applicant in the applicant’s home, or in a rehab facility if the applicant is preparing to return home, in order to assess the amount of care needed.
Planning and Paying for Home Care
But planning ahead is essential. Let’s look at one example to illustrate this point.
A widower we’ll call Bill had a stroke. He spends several days in the hospital and is discharged to a short-term rehab facility. After two months he has reached the point where he has made as much progress as he’s going to make. Bill wants to go home.
The facility recommends 24-hour care at home. Bill’s daughter hires caregivers through a home care agency and the meter starts running at the rate of $6,000-7,000/month. Within a year, Bill’s savings have been depleted by $80,000.
At this rate, he will be broke in another 10 months.
One way to make the money last longer is to get Bill on the state-funded Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders. But first Bill must spend down to $38,592 in assets so he can apply for the program.
For Bill, there is a 9% cost share toward his care plan, and
- The state pays the other 91%
- There is no limit on income, but if he made more than $2,349 per month, he would possibly have to contribute more toward his care
Bill’s income is $1,800 a month. The state-funded program does not have an income cap, only an asset limit. If you are over $2,349 then you may be required to contribute to your cost of care…but it would sure help to reduce the monthly bill.
Once Bill has spent down to $1,600 in assets, he is eligible to apply for the Medicaid Waiver under the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders. This program provides for significantly more hours of care than the state-funded home care program. There is an income cap of $2,349 for the Medicaid Waiver, but there would be a planning option to obtain eligibility even if Bill’s income exceeded the amount cap.
Ways to protect your assets
Another thing to consider when planning for long-term care for your loved ones is how to protect assets, such as their home. Again, planning ahead can make all the difference.
An irrevocable trust is one asset protection tool that can protect the house to avoid the state trying to recover against the home after a loved one passes away. But in other instances, transferring assets may make your loved one ineligible for the program for a period of time. In either case, not having a plan – and the right help from a qualified Connecticut elder law attorney – could lead to the state possibly seeking to recover the cost of your loved one’s care (while they were on the home care program) from the estate.
The Connecticut Home Care Program is designed to support the goal we all share: to keep our loved ones in the community and out of a nursing home for as long as possible. To consult with one of our elder law attorneys on what is right for your loved one, contact us today.
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