Michigan Medicaid's Home Help Program / State Plan Personal Care

Program Description

 In the Home Help Program, some family members can be paid for the caregiving assistance they provide.

Home Help is a Medicaid program for elderly and disabled Michigan residents that require assistance with their activities of daily living. This program's services include personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and toileting, as well as the instrumental activities of daily living, such as laundry and shopping for essentials. The Home Help Program is intended to promote independence at home. Therefore, it is not available to individuals living in nursing homes, adult foster care homes, or assisted living residences.

There is a consumer direction component to this program, also referred to as participant direction or self-direction. Based on Medicaid’s Cash and Counseling model, program participants can select their own caregivers. Friends and family members can be paid for the care they provide. The individual works with the county case manager to determine the appropriate amount of care and then is granted a budget for care instead of receiving care services directly from the state. The amount paid to the caregiver varies in each county, but will undoubtedly be well less than average national hourly rate for home care, which is $21 an hour.

Another program that might be of interest to elderly Michigan residents is Michigan Health Link. This program is for individuals who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare. The services provided via Home Help are also available under Heath Link, as well as a variety of other long-term care services. Unlike Home Help, personal care assistance via Health Link can be provided in Adult Foster Care homes and Homes for the Aged, which are also known as assisted living facilities.

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Eligibility Guidelines

This program has functional (disability) and financial requirements. There are no age restrictions although the program is intended to help adults remain living at home and parents are not eligible to be paid. Therefore, this program is appropriate for individuals ages 18 and over.  However, the requirements that follow are relevant for those 65 and older. 

Functional Requirements
Applicants must be assessed and certified by a Medicaid employee that they require assistance to perform several of the 7 essential activities of daily living.

Financial Requirements
Participants must be financially eligible to receive Michigan Medicaid. There are both income and assets limits. The applicant’s monthly income cannot exceed $1,005 in 2017 and a couple’s income is limited to $1,354. These limits are set per the Federal Poverty Level and are adjusted annually.

Applicants are further limited to not more than $2,000 in total money. Some assets are not counted towards this limit. These include the home and vehicle provided they are used by the applicant. There is an exception if the applicant's home equity is valued at more than $560,000.

Medicaid also reviews the applicant's past asset transfers back as far as 60 months. This is done to prevent individuals from simply giving away their resources to other family members to qualify for Medicaid. This is called the Medicaid ‘Look back’ period. Applicants found to have validated the transfer rules during the look back period can be subject to a penalty in their benefits. Learn more here.

Michigan offers an alternative to the Medicaid Home Help program for seniors for whom it is no longer safe to continue to live home alone. Under the MI Choice waiver, seniors can receive financial assistance for an adult foster home or an assisted living residence. These types of environments offer a level of care and social activities that are more appropriate for some seniors.


Benefits and Services

Services provided under this program are determined on a case-by-case basis with a county worker. The types of services typically included are assistance with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and personal hygiene. Also included is assistance with the instrumental activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, and shopping for groceries, prescription drugs and other essentials.


How to Apply / Learn More

To apply, one should contact their Department of Health County office. An in-person assessment must take place before the applicant can be qualified to determine the level of care. More information is available for download on the program here. Benefits start promptly once the application is approved. There are no waiting lists for this program.