Page 27 - Senior Times South Central Michigan January 2021 - 28-01
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Senior Times - January 2021 Page 27
 Also, if the Medicaid applicant is married, their spouse does not have to entirely deplete his or her income and savings. The idea is that the non-frail spouse should not become desti- tute as a result of this process.
Part of what makes Medicaid really com- plicated is that it is NOT a national program with the same rules and requirements for every American. Unlike Medicare, which is
a federally run program that applies the same rules and benefits to everyone, Medicaid is actually run by states, although the federal government does share the costs. The feds set a lot of rules FOR STATES and then states get to make many rules for themselves.
individual and family circumstances. And, it depends on your state. There are no hard and fast rules.
If you’ve been walking down this care- giving road for a long time and you are looking at nursing home care, Medicaid may be necessary to pay for that care. Learn more now rather than when it’s urgent.
 Misconception #3: Medicaid will take your parents’ home.
It IS true that Medicaid is not set up to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on some- one’s care just to have that person’s family inherit a mansion when the person dies.
The reason any of this matters for you is that, if you are caregiving for a parent in a different state, you’ll need to understand the rules in his or her state. And, if you are con- sidering moving your parent, you’ll – very unfortunately – have to compare the rules across the states.
OR, if your parent’s money is running out because of expensive care – even if he or
she isn’t in a nursing home – then it could
be helpful, especially if there’s a good home and community-based services and supports Medicaid program in your parent’s local area.
 On the other hand, Medicaid rules do try
to preserve the family home for your frail dad while he’s living. But states may put a lien on the house while he’s alive, and then try to use the asset to recoup for care costs after he dies. This can sometimes create a pretty tragic set of circumstances.
This is complicated and it’s also scary. It feels like very big stakes – especially when it comes to your parents’ lifetime savings and/ or their home. It can be a shock to realize
that your parents’ financial security and yours could be very connected.
Misconception #5: Medicaid only covers nursing homes.
As caregivers, I know you’re already really tired and stressed. And, figuring this program out for your family is not easy. But you’ve GOT THIS.
This is where many experts and books will tell you to get a lawyer to advise you as you are going through this process. And, I tend to agree. You can start by checking out the web- site of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
Medicaid has traditionally paid mostly for nursing home care. But, no one really wants to be in a nursing home. So, some states operate home and community-based services (HCBS) programs.
Just remember that it’s a crazy, complicated ,hard situation. And it’s that way for everyone, even experts! It’s not that you are failing. You are good and normal and doing everything you can. That’s all you can do.
The problem though is that not everyone can afford a lawyer. If that’s the case, I rec- ommend starting by consulting the free state health insurance assistance office in your par- ent’s state. These trained volunteers can either help you directly or help you drill down to other resources.
[Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid- Funded Long Term Care supports and ser- vices now have more choices in Michigan. These include nursing home care but also the MI Choice Waiver, Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and MI Health Link.]’s mission is to support and build confidence in women who are man- aging their parents’ care. Through her writing and curation of resources, Tumlinson coaches women and men to insist on excellent care and a meaningful experience for their parents. To learn more visit
[Legal Services of South Central Michigan is another option. See page 22 for times to call-in. They can be reached at (269) 224-5040.]
But, in the meantime, to find one, I recom- mend that you start by asking about “HCBS programs” through the local area agency on aging (AAA). And you can find the AAA through the federal locator at https://eldercare. or call 1-800-667-1116.
Publisher’s Note: Today there are several choices that allow individuals to live independent- ly while receiving nursing facility level of care in their home or in a community setting in Michigan supported by Medicaid. Programs in Michigan include the MI Choice Waiver Program, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and MI Health Link. All have eligibil-
ity criteria. Look for more details in the South Central Michigan Senior Housing Directory, as well as additional ways to cover the cost for care.
Misconception #4: Medicaid is a national program that’s the same for everyone.
But beware! Unlike nursing home care, state Medicaid programs do not HAVE to offer HCBS so the availability programs will vary depending on where you live.
What’s most important? When is Medicaid right for your parent? It depends on so many
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