The Home Care for the Elderly (HCE) program provides payments to caregivers to help them support low-income elders in their homes or in the homes of the individual who requires care. There are 2 types of payments: Basic and Special. The Basic Payment is meant to help with the cost of housing, food, clothing, and medical services. The Special Payment is for necessary medical items and services, such as durable medical equipment and home nursing.
The Home Care for the Elderly program is somewhat unique among the states as it provides financial assistance directly to the caregiver instead of the individual who requires care. Caregivers can be related, but it is not a requirement that they be family members. However, it is required that the caregivers be approved by both the care recipient and the case manager. The home, in which the individual will receive care, must also be approved by the case manager.
Did You Know? Florida seniors are eligible to receive free quotes for the installation of a walk-in tubs to improve bathroom safety and independence. Learn more here.
Last year, approximately 3,000 Florida elders benefited from the subsidy. It is projected that funding levels and participation rates will increase for the program this year. Nearly 3,300 Florida residents are expected to be participants in HCE in 2019.
To qualify for the HCE Program, a Florida resident must be at risk for nursing home placement, be 60+ years old, and be financially eligible. Recipients of any of the following federal programs automatically meet the financial qualifications: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB), or Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB).
Otherwise, the income and asset limits are the same as for the Medicaid Institutional Care Program (ICP). As of 2019, an individual applicant must have less than $2,313 in gross monthly income. This amount is equivalent to 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate. For married couples, only the income of the applicant is considered. This means if both spouses are applying for the program, each may have monthly income up to $2,313. An individual applicant must have less than $2,000 in assets, which includes savings and property, but excludes one’s primary home and vehicle. The asset limit for a married couple is slightly higher at $3,000. Note that participants cannot be concurrently enrolled in and receiving benefits from both the HCE program and the Statewide Medicaid Managed Care program.
In addition, applicants must have an adult caregiver who lives in the home with them and is able to both provide care and make care arrangements.
Benefits and Services
This HCE Program provides financial assistance to caregivers to help them care for elderly individuals. All eligible applicants receive a basic subsidy, which on average is $106 / month. However, it may be slightly higher based on the care recipient’s income. This subsidy can be used for rent, housing, and medical services. As mentioned above, there are also special subsidies that are to be used for services and supplies. However, the amount is determined based on the client’s income and needs. Case management is also provided as needed.
The basic subsidy is a recurring monthly payment, while the special subsidy may be a one-time payment or recurring based on the need. Subsidies can be used for a variety of services and supplies including, but not limited to the following:
Disposable incontinence products
Durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc.)
Home access modifications (ramps, widening of doorways, etc.)
Home care (health aide and nursing)
Adult day care / adult day health
Homemaker / chore services
Home delivered meals
Therapies (physical, occupational, speech)
How to Apply / Learn More
The Home Care for the Elderly Program is administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs in conjunction with the Florida Area Agencies on Aging. As funding is limited, new applicants are only accepted when vacancies arise. Therefore, qualified applicants can expect to wait for an opportunity to begin to receive payments through the program.
To apply one should contact their local Florida AAA here or Florida's Elder Helpline at 1-800-963-5337. The Department of Elder Affairs maintains a webpage about the program here.
The Home Care for the Elderly program will assist approximately 3,300 individuals in 2019. There are other assistance programs in Florida that help a wider audience. Read about them here.