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Colorado Medicaid Waiver for the Elderly, Blind and Disabled

Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2019

What is a Medicaid Waiver?   For persons with limited financial resources, Medicaid pays for nursing home care. For those who wish to live at home or in assisted living, sometimes Medicaid will pay for care in those locations if it can be obtained at a lower cost than in a nursing home. It does this through "Medicaid Waivers" which are also called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers or Waiver Funded Services.

Waiver Description

This program helps nursing home qualified persons to remain living at home or in assisted living communities.

The Elderly, Blind and Disabled Medicaid waiver is designed to help the elderly who have physical or neurological impairments that could qualify them to receive nursing home care. Individuals elect to receive care services at home or in alternative care facilities, such as assisted living, instead of in a nursing home environment. In addition to choosing their care environment, under this program individuals have the option to "consumer direct" or self-direct their own care services. Meaning, they can hire and manage some of their own care providers. As an example, they can elect from whom they receive personal care, but not necessarily who provides them with non-medical transportation.

Services covered under this waiver are selected to enable participants to maintain their independence outside of nursing homes. As such, personal emergency response services (PERS) and home modifications are covered, as well as a broad category of assistance referred to as In-Home Support Services (IHSS).  IHSS includes help with home-related tasks, such as laundry, house cleaning, and personal care, such as bathing and eating.

This waiver's full, official name is Home and Community-Based Services waiver for Persons who are Elderly, Blind and Disabled (HCBS-EBD). It is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. 

Eligibility Guidelines

To be eligible for this waiver, an applicant must be a resident of Colorado. This waiver also considers age, income, financial assets, and functional ability as eligibility criteria.

Age and Functional Ability - while open to persons 18 and older who are disabled, those 65 years of age and older need not be designated officially as having a "disability," rather they must be assessed and found in need of nursing home level care. Persons living with HIV or AIDS can also automatically qualify for this even if they are not over 65 or legally defined as having a disability by the Social Security Administration.

2019 Income Limits - Single applicants may not have a gross monthly income greater than $2,313 each month. This is equal to an annual income of $27,756.

If married, and the applicant’s spouse is not also seeking Medicaid assistance, some of the applicant’s income can be allocated to their spouse as a living allowance.

This is called a Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA) and allows an applicant spouse to transfer up to $2,057.50 / month (this figure will change July 2019) to his/her healthy spouse. However, if the non-applicant spouse has high shelter costs, an applicant spouse may be able to transfer as much as $3,160.50 / month to his/her non-applicant spouse.  

Another option to qualify when over the income limit is to allocate excess income into a Miller Income Trust. Money deposited in the trust does not count towards Medicaid’s income limit, and can only be used for very specific reasons, such as contributing towards the cost of long-term care.

Both spousal income allocation and Miller Trusts are complicated, and one should consider consulting with a professional Medicaid planner should they choose to take this route to qualify for Medicaid.

2019 Asset Limits - Single applicants may have up to $2,000 in countable assets, which includes bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. If the applicant is married, and the spouse is not applying, then the non-applicant spouse is permitted to retain the first $25,284 in joint assets and up to a maximum of $126,420. This is called the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. A home, valued up to $585,000, is an exempt asset (meaning its value is not counted toward the asset limit).

Countable assets in excess of the limits may be converted to exempt assets, such as modifying a home for aging in place or paying off debt. An applicant may also convert a lump sum of cash into annuity income, which no longer will count as an asset. These techniques both will likely require expert guidance from a Medicaid planning professional. Interested individuals should find help in advance of applying. Find assistance qualifying for Medicaid. 

Benefits and Services

As the objective of the Elderly, Blind and Disabled Waiver is to prevent nursing home placement, the benefits are selected to enable individuals to continue living in the community and to support their family members who provide caregiving assistance. Some services such as Personal Care and Homemaker Services can be participant directed, meaning the beneficiary can choose their own provider of services.  A complete list of services follows. 

  • Adult Day Care / Adult Day Health Care
  • Alternative Care Facilities / Assisted Living Residence - Assistance with activities of daily living, laundry, housecleaning, etc. Room and board costs are not covered. 
  • Community Transition Services - Nursing home back into the community
  • Personal Emergency Response System (PERS)
  • Home Modifications to Increase Access -Widening of doorways, addition of ramps, etc.
  • Homemaker Services - Cleaning, laundry, preparation of meals, shopping, etc.
  • In Home Support Services (IHSS)
  • Non-Medical Transportation Coordination and Assistance
  • Personal Care - Assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, etc.
  • Respite Care for Family Caregivers - In-home and out of home
  • Medication Reminders

How to Apply / Learn More

This waiver is available statewide in all counties. It has been structured to aid approximately 28,000 state residents. However, because it is not considered an entitlement program, eligibility does not ensure availability of services. Qualified applicants may have to wait to start their benefits if there is an interest list.  

To apply, contact the Colorado Single Entry Point in your local region. Limited information about this waiver is also available on the Colorado State Government website.

Colorado families might also be interested in the CDASS Program and can receive caregiving assistance from Colorado Respite Coalition.