Michigan Choice Elderly and Disabled Waiver

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 state-specific "Medicaid Waivers," which are also called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers or Waiver Funded Services.

Waiver Description

MI Choices allows eligible seniors that require nursing home level care, to receive that care in their homes or in the community, including in certain assisted living residences. Family members can also be paid to provide care.

MI Choices is a Michigan Medicaid Waiver program, formerly referred to as the Home and Community Based Services for the Elderly and Disabled (HCBS/ED) program. Waiver participants are given the choice of having the state manage their care services or self-directing their own care. This option is referred to as Self Determination in LTC and it is based on the Medicaid Cash and Counseling model. Family members, such as the adult children, can be hired to provide care services; they can become paid caregivers for their aging parents. However, in most cases spouses and legal guardians are not eligible to paid as caregivers for their husbands or wives. 

While paying a family member may be the most popular benefit of this program, it is by no means the only benefit. Under the waiver, seniors can also receive assistance for home modifications to enable aging in place. This might include the addition of a wheelchair ramp or bathroom safety modifications, such as the replacement of a shower with a walk-in tub.  

 Did You Know? Michigan seniors can receive free quotes for bath safety modifications. Get started here.

 

Eligibility Guidelines

In addition to being at least 65 years old (or 18-64 and disabled), a Michigan resident and qualified for nursing home care, persons must be financially qualified to receive assistance from the Choice Waiver.

The financial criteria for this waiver are the same as for Michigan Medicaid or Medical Assistance as it is sometimes called. A general rule of thumb for Medicaid eligibility for 2017 is the individual can have up to $2,205 per month in income and up to $2,000 in countable resources. 

Defining "Countable Resources" 

Countable resources, countable assets or non-exempt assets all refer to the resources that Medicaid considers when determining eligibility. Owner-occupied homes are considered exempt, meaning the real estate value is not included, provided the value of the home does not exceed $560,000. Primary vehicles, burial plots and irrevocable funeral trusts are also exempt. Also, if one partner of a married couple is seeking Medicaid and the other partner is not, the countable resource limit is lifted to $120,800, to allow the spouse living outside of the facility enough money to live on.

Options for People Over-Limit
Persons that are over the limits might still gain entrance to Medicaid by working with a financial professional to help them restructure their assets so they meet the limits. There are techniques that can be utilized to both gain eligibility and preserve a family's resources for future generations. If you believe you are over the limits, consider Medicaid planning assistance to help qualify. Learn more.

 

Benefits and Services

Services are decided on a case-by-case basis and can include the following:

  • Adult day care in a group environment
  • Chore services
  • Disposable medical supplies and durable medical equipment
  • Environmental modifications to one's home or car to increase independence
  • Homemaker services such as laundry, shopping assistance and housekeeping
  • Personal care services in an assisted living residence or at home
  • Personal care supervision
  • Personal emergency response systems (PERS)
  • Prepared and hot home delivered meals
  • Private duty nursing on a short-term basis
  • Respite care to relieve the primary caregiver
  • Transportation assistance for medical appointments

 

For individuals who would like to age in place in their private home or the home of a family member, the state of Michigan offers a second option to assist homebound seniors. It is called the Michigan Home Help Program. This program also offers seniors the choice of hiring a family member or a friend to provide their personal care services.

 

How to Apply / Learn More

This program is available statewide across Michigan. There is room in this program to accommodate approximately 10,000 participants. While a recent budget expansion helped to reduce this program's waiting list, it did not eliminate it altogether. New applicants can expect between a three to four month waiting list to begin services.

To apply for the program, one should contact their local Michigan Area Agency on Aging. Some limited information about the program is available the Department of Community Health webpage