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Note: CT residents only can contact the Center for Medicare Advocacy toll-free at 1-800-262-4414

Medicare Savings Programs in Connecticut

If you have Medicare, Social Security deducts money from your check each month to pay for your Medicare Part B premium

If you qualify for one of Connecticut’s three Medicare Savings Programs (MSP), the State of Connecticut will pay this monthly Part B premium on your behalf.  Your Social Security check will then increase each month.

In addition to paying the Part B premium, one of the Medicare Savings Programs, called QMB, also pays all Medicare Part A and Part B co-pays and deductibles.  To benefit from this program you must use providers that accept Medicaid patients.  With QMB, it may be unnecessary to purchase a Medigap policy to supplement Parts A and B of Medicare.

The chart on the next page describes each MSP program, what it covers, and the income limits to qualify.  Please note:  There are no asset limits for any of the three Connecticut Medicare Savings Programs.  In addition, the state will not place a lien on your property to recoup benefits from your estate when you die. 

The Medicare Savings Programs are administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS).  Program brochures and applications are available from the DSS or may be downloaded from the DSS website at: http://www.ct.gov/dss/cwp/view.asp?Q=451370&A=2345.

If you qualify for MSP, you will also automatically receive help with your prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D.  This help comes in the form of a full subsidy under the Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS), also known as “Extra Help.”

With the full Low Income Subsidy:

  • the monthly Part D premium is paid in full, up to the benchmark plan threshold.  You pay the excess premium out-of-pocket if you join a more expensive plan.
  • You do not have a deductible or “donut hole” gap in coverage.
  • You have minimal co-pays for both generic brand name drugs.

Read more at: http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/medicare-info/medicare-part-d/

Income Limits for MSP in Connecticut – Effective March 1, 2015

Program Name

What it Covers

Monthly Income
(singles)

Monthly Income
(couples)

"QMB"

Qualified Medicare Beneficiary

Covers all Medicare Part A and B co-pays and deductibles (similar to a Medigap plan)

Covers the Medicare Part A premium if the person does not qualify for premium-free Part A.  Also pays the Part B premium.

Must use Medicaid-enrolled providers

$2,053.03

$2,776.21

"SLMB"

Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary

Pays the Part B premium only

$2,247.63

$3,028.41

"ALMB"

Additional Low Income Medicare Beneficiary

Also called the “QI” program (Qualified Individual)

Note: ALMB is subject to annual Congressional funding

Pays the Part B premium only

$2,393.58

$3,225.06

 


The ConnMAP Program

ConnMAP is a Connecticut program which requires physicians and other Medicare Part B providers to accept Medicare's approved payment rate for individuals with moderate incomes. ConnMAP is available only to those who meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in Medicare Part B
  • Connecticut residency
  • Income under $43,560 for singles, and  $58,740 for couples

*See http://www.ct.gov/dss/cwp/view.asp?a=2353&q=305218#CONNMAP

A ConnMAP card is issued to those who are eligible. It is best if individuals show the card to providers prior to receiving services to insure that the provider abides by the ConnMAP program terms and charge limitations.

Note: ConnMAP information and application, telephone (800)443-9946; in Hartford telephone (860)424-4925.


What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a needs-based program which was created by Congress to help pay for medical care for certain elderly, disabled, and other persons who meet the very strict income eligibility criteria. Medicaid policies are complex and have been debated and changed often during recent years.

Also known as "Title 19", Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal and state governments. While each state is required to adhere to the basic eligibility and benefit requirements contained in the federal statute and regulations, significant details vary from state to state.

Like Medicare, Medicaid provides payment for health care services, but it is very different from Medicare in a number of ways. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid eligibility is predicated upon the income and assets of the beneficiary. In general, Medicaid is only available for individuals who do not have sufficient income and assets to pay for their own medical treatment – according to Medicaid's strict income criteria. Until 2010, only certain people – those who are 65 years of age or older, those who are disabled, as defined by the Social Security Administration, young children, and their caretaker relatives, were eligiblefor Medicaid.  In 2010 The CT Department of Social Services (DSS) created the Medicaid for Low-Income Adults program (LIA) It extended Medicaid benefits to adults without minor children who have incomes up to 56% of the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL). Beginning January 1, 2014, the LIA program was eliminated and replaced with the “Medicaid Coverage for the Lowest Income Populations” (MCLIP) program. MCLIP expands Medicaid eligibility to individuals with income up to 133% of the FPL.

Medicaid covers far more nursing home care than Medicare, since it pays for necessary custodial, as well as skilled care, and it has no limit on how long nursing home care may be covered for eligible individuals. Significantly, both Medicare and Medicaid can be a source of funding for home care which extends over a long period of time. Medicare, however, only covers home health care if the individual is homebound and needs some skilled nursing or therapy services. Medicaid, on the other hand, does not always require that a person be homebound in order to receive home health benefits, and it may or may not require that the person need a skilled service to qualify for the home care benefit.

Medicaid financial eligibility rules differ depending upon the state of residence and living arrangement of the applicant. In particular, the rules for establishing eligibility for Medicaid for a person living in the community are very different from the rules governing eligibility for those residing permanently in nursing homes.

For more information about the Connecticut Medicaid program please visit http://www.ct.gov/dss/cwp/view.asp?a=2353&q=305218.


Home Care in Connecticut

Medicare and Medicaid home-based services can often make a critical difference for frail elders desiring to remain in their own homes and avoid institutional placement. Advocates with a thorough understanding of the home care resources available to Connecticut seniors under Medicare and Medicaid can assist clients in maximizing these home care options to further clients’ goals to live their lives in their own homes.

The Medicare Home Health Benefit

In order to receive services under the Medicare home health benefit, a Medicare beneficiary must be homebound, as defined by the Medicare statute, and must be in need of intermittent skilled nursing or skilled therapy.

A beneficiary meets the homebound requirement if leaving home requires a considerable and taxing effort, and if the absences are infrequent or of relatively short duration. A considerable and taxing effort is established if the individual requires the assistance of another person or an assistive device, like a wheelchair, in order to leave home. Additionally, if leaving home unattended is contraindicated, the beneficiary meets the homebound criterion. The Medicare statute specifically provides that a person need not be bedbound to be considered homebound. Occasional and infrequent walks around the block or similar absences from the home are allowable. Absences from home for medical reasons, to attend certified or licensed adult day care programs, or to attend religious services are expressly permitted by the Medicare statute.

"Part time or intermittent services" are defined as skilled nursing and home health aide services, which, in combination, do not exceed eight hours a day and which are provided for no more than twenty-eight hours a week. An exception in the law calls for review on a case-by-case basis of those patients who need more care, up to a maximum of thirty-five hours per week.

In order to trigger coverage, skilled nursing care must be needed and received at least once every 60 days, but generally not daily – unless it can be shown that the need for daily nursing services will not continue indefinitely. In most cases, daily skilled nursing care will not be covered for more than 21 consecutive days. There are some exceptions to this general rule.

Skilled care is defined for purposes of Medicare coverage as care that is inherently complex and thus can only be safely and effectively performed by, or under the supervision of, professional or technical personnel. Examples of skilled nursing care include: wound care; catheter irrigation; and injections. Medicare also recognizes observation and assessment of a potentially changing condition, management of an overall care plan, and nursing education services as skilled nursing care.

The Medicare regulations and administrative guidelines are very clear that the stability and/or chronicity of an individual’s medical condition is not the determinative factor regarding entitlement to Medicare home health coverage. Likewise, coverage of rehabilitation therapy (physical, speech or occupational therapy) is not conditioned on restorative potential, or upon continued progress. Medicare coverage is available, so long as the skills of a trained therapist are required to safely and effectively deliver or direct the needed therapy services.

Medicare home health services must be ordered by a treating physician and must be provided in accordance with a written plan of care, by or under arrangement with a Medicare certified home health agency. Medicare beneficiaries who meet the coverage criteria may receive skilled nursing, physical, speech and occupational therapy, medical social services, and home health aides.

The Medicare home health benefit is not currently subject to any deductible amount or copayment. Home health care may be covered by Medicare indefinitely; there is no durational limit on this Medicare benefit.

Medicaid Home Care

The federal Medicaid (Title 19) mandatory benefit package includes a home health benefit. In addition, Connecticut has a Medicaid "waiver" home care program, called Category 3 of the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, (CHCPE). It offers more extensive services, including many services that are "non-medical" in nature, in order to prevent the premature institutional placement of frail elders who can be safely and cost-effectively maintained at home. Finally, Connecticut offers a fully state-funded component to the CHCPE, called Category 1 and Category 2.

The Mandatory Medicaid Home Health Benefit

The mandatory Medicaid home health benefit is available to any Medicaid recipient in Connecticut, regardless of age, who qualifies for nursing facility placement. It must be determined that it is safe and cost-effective as compared to institutional placement to maintain the recipient at home. Cost effectiveness is measured by comparing the weighted average cost of the home care plan of care to the average comparable institutional Medicaid rate, (i.e., convalescent home, ICF/MR, hospital rate).

The home health benefit offers skilled nursing, physical, speech, and occupational therapy and home health aide services. Generally, services must be provided by a Medicare-certified home health agency. Prior approval must be obtained from the Department of Social Services for more than 20 hours of care each week.

The Medicaid home health benefit is similar to the Medicare home health benefit. Note, however, that a Medicaid recipient need not satisfy a homebound requirement. Furthermore, unlike Medicare, Medicaid will pay for home health aide services even when the individual does not require skilled care. In addition, services may be available in settings outside the recipient’s home, see Skubel v. Aaronson, 925 F Supp 930 (D. Conn 1996); Detsel v. Sullivan, 895 F. 2d 58 (2d Circuit, 1990).

Financial eligibility for Title 19 home care is based upon the Medicaid community eligibility standards. Generally single individuals in most parts of Connecticut may have no more than $610.00 in income and must have less than $1,600 in countable assets. Those who are otherwise eligible, but whose income is higher than permitted may "spend down" the "surplus income" to achieve Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid recipients are not required to contribute to the cost of the mandatory home health services unless they qualify as "medically needy" and are applying their "surplus income" to the cost of their home care services.

Medicaid home health recipients have a right to prior written notification regarding decisions about their services and they have a right to a Medicaid Fair Hearing to contest any denial, reduction or discontinuance of services. Importantly, if a Fair Hearing is requested within 10 days of a reduction or discontinuance in services, the service must be maintained until a Fair Hearing decision is rendered.

MEDICAID WAIVER HOME CARE: THE CONNECTICUT HOME CARE PROGRAM FOR ELDERS (CHCPE), CATEGORY 3

Connecticut has obtained a special Medicaid home care waiver in order to offer an expansive array of medical and social services to frail seniors who, in the absence of such services would be forced to accept nursing facility placement. The types of care which can be provided through the CHCPE include services which are not traditionally defined as medical services, such as shopping, laundering or companion services.

The goal of the CHCPE is to divert elders who would otherwise require nursing home care away from more costly institutional placement, when safe and cost-effective community-based care is appropriate and available. Only elders aged 65 and older are eligible for this program.

There are several tests of cost-effectiveness applied to recipients of Category 3 home care services. The total cost of the care may not exceed the cost to the state of institutional placement. Generally, the average Medicaid payment for nursing facility care is used in making this determination. In addition, the cost of any non-medical social support waiver services provided may not exceed 60% of the average Medicaid nursing facility payment. Under the cost cap calculations, 24 hour care could never be determined to be cost effective, unless other resources, such as family voluntary contributions of money or services were made.

Both financial and functional eligibility must be established by an applicant for Category 3 home care services. An applicant may have no more than $2,163.00 in monthly income in 2014. A single applicant must have less than $1,600 per month in countable non-excluded assets. Medicaid eligibility rules governing long term care, including transfer of assets prohibitions as well as spousal impoverishment prevention provisions apply to Category 3 of the CHCPE. The financial protections for the spouses of married applicants are similar to the spousal impoverishment prevention provisions governing Medicaid eligibility for nursing facility care. In 2014, at least $23,448.00 can be set aside for the "healthy spouse", in addition to the $1,600 the recipient may retain in assets. Thus, a couple may have at least $25,048.00 in assets while one spouse is a CHCPE Category 3 recipient. (For more information about spousal impoverishment prevention, see Paying for Nursing Home Care With Medicaid, published by the Legal Assistance Resource Center, Hartford, CT and available through any legal services office.)

Higher income Category 3 recipients must contribute to the cost of their care. They are permitted to retain an amount of monthly income equal to 200% of the federal poverty level as well as sufficient income to cover the Medicare Part B premium and any income which must be diverted to a "healthy spouse."

Functional eligibility is measured by whether or not the applicant requires the type of care provided by a nursing facility. The test used determines whether, in the absence of the package of home-based services available through the CHCPE, Category 3, the applicant would have to be placed in a nursing facility. It must also be safe to keep the applicant in a home setting.

Applications are made through the Department of Social Services Alternate Care Unit. Applicants complete a financial screening form. If it appears that eligibility can be established, a Medicaid application must be completed and submitted. The Alternate Care Unit screens for functional eligibility and refers cases to the regional access agency, a DSS contractor, which verifies eligibility and then proceeds to develop a cost effective care plan for each eligible individual. Medicaid appeals rights are applicable to Category 3 of the CHCPE.

STATE-FUNDED HOME CARE CATEGORIES 1 AND 2 OF THE CHCPE

Connecticut funds home care services with monies appropriated by the legislature. Like the Medicaid Waiver portion of Category 3 of the CHCPE, the services available under the state-funded levels of Categories 1 and 2 include social supports as well as medically-related home care. Financial eligibility is similar to Category 3.

There is no income limit imposed on applicants for categories 1 and 2. Asset eligibility is premised upon the minimum spousal impoverishment figure. If both spouses are eligible for services, they may have greater assets.

Functional eligibility for Category 1 is established by a risk of hospitalization or short-term nursing facility placement. For Category 2, an individual must need either short or long-term nursing facility placement. Category 1 services must cost no more than 25% of the average weighted nursing facility cost to the state. Category 2 services may cost up to 50% of the state’s cost of nursing facility care.

Category 1 and 2 recipients who are also Medicaid eligible may receive mandatory Medicaid home health benefits and additional services through the CHCPE. Similarly, Medicare home health services may also be combined with CHCPE services.

Applications are processed in the same manner as for Category 3.Effective October 1, 2000, several new services are included in the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders. These include minor home renovations, such as grab bars, or widening doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and assisted living facility services in consenting state-funded congregate care residential facilities. In addition, a personal care attendant pilot project is available to serve 50 to 100 persons. (I would delete this portion in red, 14 years is not new, if we were to say something here we could make a list of services included under the CT Home CARE Program for elders but I am not sure that is necessary).

Click HERE for more information on home health care.


CONNECTICUT AREA AGENCIES ON AGING

South Western Area Agency on Aging
1000 Lafayette Blvd., 9th Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604
203-333-9288
http://www.swcaa.org/

Agency on Aging of South Central CT
1 Long Wharf Drive
New Haven, Ct 06511
203-785-8533
https://www.aoascc.org/

Eastern Connecticut Area Agency on Aging
19 Ohio Ave.
Norwich, CT 06360
860-887-3561
http://seniorresourcesec.org/

North Central Area Agency on Aging
151 New Park Ave., Box 75
Hartford, CT 06106
860-724-6443
http://www.ncaaact.org/

Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging
84 Progress Lane
Waterbury, CT 06705
203-757-5449
http://www.wcaaa.org/

CHOICES Health Insurance Hot Line 1-800-994-9422


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