An increase to the protected income level for those who rely on the HCBS waiver program or the PACE program is finally coming! And it is long overdue. Individuals will soon be allowed to keep $1,177 of their income rather than the current amount of $747. This will be a game changer for many who rely on this important program.
Why does this matter?
For example, let's consider Betty. Betty is a widow and lives at home in a modest apartment with her cat, Peaches. Unfortunately, she just does not get around the way she use to and she needs help with bathing and dressing. She wants to stay in her apartment and she is afraid of losing her independence if she moves to a nursing home. She has no savings and her only income is her social security benefit of $1,700 per month. In order to remain in her own home, she must hire outside help to assist her in bathing and dressing. And, at $22-28 per hour, she simply can't afford it.
Could Betty live on $747 per month?
It is possible for Betty to receive Medicaid benefits to help pay for her long term care in her own home under the HCBS waiver program.
But there is a catch.
She can only keep $747 of her income to pay for her food and shelter. Her rent is a modest $650 a month, plus she pays $150 per month in utilities, and she spends $300 per month on groceries, for a total of $1,100 per month. She simply can't cut her living expenses enough to be able to live on $747 per month.
It is likely that Betty will end up in a nursing home on Medicaid based on her situation.
How does a change in the protected income level help Betty?
With an increase in the protected income level from $747 to $1,177, Betty will not be forced to move into a nursing home. She can stay in her own home with her cat, Peaches. This will have a huge impact in the lives of people like Betty.
When are these changes coming?
These changes are happening now. I am receiving notices from KDHE and KanCare that the protected income levels for my clients already receiving HCBS benefits will change September 1, 2019.
This change was made as part of the budget process. You can find proof on page 3 of the document listed here.
What good news for the people of Kansas!