Community First Choice (CFC) Program Option from Texas Medicaid

 What are Community First Choice Programs?  Until recently Medicaid provided services to the elderly 3 ways: in nursing homes, at home through "HCBS Waivers" and through regular Medicaid "personal care".  Each has its shortcomings. The Affordable Care Act allows states a fourth option to provide aging care that addresses some of these limitations.

Program Description

The Community First Choice (CFC) option from Texas Medicaid is a new program that enables elderly individuals who would otherwise require nursing home care to receive some types of assistance in their homes and thereby preventing unnecessary nursing home placement. Support services such as personal care (assistance with the activities of daily living, like meal prep and bathing) are provided. However, higher level care at home is not available through this program.

Historically in Texas, there have been "home and community-based services" (HCBS) available through Medicaid waiver programs. The primary waiver to which CFC can be compared from a services perspective is the STAR+PLUS Waiver. However, there are several differences that make CFC more beneficial to families. Under STAR+PLUS, enrollment is capped and waiting lists often exists. The federal government has mandated that CFC services are an entitlement and, therefore, waiting lists (or interest lists, as they are called in Texas) cannot exist.

A second key difference is STAR+PLUS is a managed Medicaid program. Services are provided by a managed care organization, like a health insurance HMO. Under CFC, program participants have a much higher degree of control over who provides them with assistance. This flexibility is referred to as consumer-direction. Participants can choose families members, except for their spouses, to provide them with personal care assistance and these family members can be paid by Medicaid.

 Under CFC, family members can be paid caregivers for their loved ones.


Eligibility Guidelines

Eligibility requirements for Community First Choice are both financial and based on an individual’s need for care.

Care Need
A person of any age must need help with daily tasks, or Activities of Daily Living, to the degree that, without assistance, the individual would require care in a nursing home or an intermediate care facility.  As part of maintaining enrollment, there is an annual re-determination on the individual's care needs.

Financial Need
Community First Choice is a Medicaid program. Applicants must be financially qualified for regular Medicaid. In Texas, an aged (65 and over) applicant must have a gross income below 100% of Federal Benefit Level (Supplemental Security Income). In 2018, this totals $750 per month. Couples can have up to $1,125 in joint monthly income.

A person can possess personal assets up to $2,000, not including one vehicle, most household items and the value of the individual's home. Married couples are permitted to a higher level of “countable assets” provided one spouse is not applying for Medicaid.

Persons unsure if they meet Texas' complex Medicaid eligibility requirements and persons with income or assets over these limits are encouraged to consult with with a Medicaid advising service prior to application. Doing so, may help candidates become eligible.  Read more.


Benefits and Services

Services and supports offered under CFC are designed to increase an individual’s ability to lead an independent life, integrating the individual into the community as much as possible.  As such, personal or attendant care is provided as well as the option to choose who provides that care.  Personal emergency response services (PERS) are covered, helping during those periods when the individual is alone.

Assistance is also provided with the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).  This includes services such as:

  • Set-up and use of home telephone, cell phone or other communication devices
  • Essential household shopping (such as groceries and medications)
  • Light housework and laundry services
  • Meal preparation
  • Personal financial affairs management
  • Assistance with administering medications,
  • Escorts to essential activities such as medical appointments

CFC also provides support for health maintenance activities (HMA’s). Assistance such as:

  • Administration of medications or oxygen
  • Administration of a bowel and bladder program
  • Tube feeding
  • Ulcer and skin care
  • Use of durable medical equipment / adaptive technology

There is technically no limit to the cost of benefits that can be provided under CFC, but the client’s service planning team determines exactly how much support the individual needs.


How to Apply / Learn More

Interested parties can apply online.  Individuals who are already enrolled in one of the Texas Medicaid waiver services are eligible to switch to the Community First Choice, but there are no requirements that say they must do so.

As this is a relatively new program, limited additional information is available online.  For more in-depth information, it is recommend one contact their local Texas Area Agency on Aging.  Some limited information is also available on this state webpage.