Mississippi Assisted Living Waiver: Qualifications and Services

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

The Assisted Living Waiver is a Mississippi Medicaid Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver program. It is designed to help both low-income adults with disabilities and the elderly that require significant assistance with completing activities of daily living, such as eating and maintaining personal hygiene. It assists eligible applicants by providing for personal care and other supportive services in assisted living communities, instead of placement into nursing homes.

Qualifying as "assisted living" includes state-approved assisted living residences that accept Medicaid, licensed personal care homes, community residential care facilities, and congregate housing.

HCBS Waivers, including this one, are not entitlements. Unlike institutional or nursing home Medicaid, being eligible for services does not automatically mean that services will be available. For the past several years, a waiting list for the Assisted Living Waiver has existed, although the average time spent on the waiting list is less than in many states with similar waivers.

 Did You Know?  Mississippi is ranked 4th in the nation for highest rate of centenarians per capita.

 

Eligibility Guidelines

In order to be eligible for this wavier, applicants must be residents of Mississippi. This state considers the applicant's monthly income, countable assets, age, and level of impairment when determining eligible participants for the Assisted Living Waiver.

Age - Applicants must be at least 21 years of age. If the applicant is not disabled, the applicant must be a minimum of 65 years of age.

Level of Impairment - Participants must require the level of care provided in a nursing home. Areas of screening to determine eligibility may include an individual’s capacity to perform instrumental activities of daily living, such as the ability to prepare one’s own meal or to grocery shop, as well as activities of daily living, such as grooming, mobility, and toiletry. Other areas may include deficits in cognition and medical conditions.

Monthly Income - Individuals must meet the Mississippi Medicaid income limit for nursing homes. For 2017, an applicant’s monthly income must be less than 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate. This means an applicant must have a monthly income that is not greater than $2,205. Married applicants whose husband or wife is not seeking Medicaid can allocate joint income to the individual who is not applying, up to $3,022.50 / month. This can effectively lower the applicant's income to within the limits necessary for the Assisted Living Waiver. Alternatively, an applicant might utilize a special trust to lower their income to within limits.

Assets – Asset calculations are more complex than income. Medicaid defines assets as either “countable” or “exempt”. Countable assets include savings, stocks, 2nd homes, 2nd cars, land, and most other things of value. It is perhaps easier to list those assets that are exempt. These include personal items, home furnishings, burial plots, very low-value life insurance policies, and most importantly a home provided the owner lives in the home and the value of their home equity is less than $560,000 in 2017. Unfortunately, for single persons who live in assisted living, their homes are not exempt because they do not reside in their homes. However, for married couples a home is exempt if one spouse continues to live there. The countable asset limit for a single applicant is $4,000. The non-applicant spouse of a married couple is permitted to have $120,900 in assets. Joint assets can be allocated to the non-applicant spouse up to this amount.

 *Important* Persons who exceed these financial limits can still become Medicaid eligible by re-structuring their finances to meet the guidelines. This is called Medicaid planning and there are both public and private professionals who can help. Read more.

Benefits and Services

Beneficiaries of the Assisted Living Waiver can receive the following types of care and support. Be aware that waiver participants are expected to contribute financially to their room and board costs in assisted living.

  • Attendant Care
  • Case Management
  • Chore Services
  • Homemaker Services
  • Medication Administration and Oversight
  • Personal Care
  • Personal Emergency Response Services
  • Temporary Skilled Nursing Services
  • Therapeutic Social and Recreational Activities
  • Transportation Assistance

 

How to Apply / Learn More

This waiver is available in all Mississippi counties. However, this is not an entitlement program; persons who meet the requirements may be placed on waitlists. The program's webpage offers limited information on this program but offers a downloadable PDF that provides more program details.

This Waiver is administered by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, Bureau of Long Term Care. To apply, contact them at 1-800-421-2408 or by contacting your local area agency on aging.