Saturday, August 15, 2015

Medicaid 101: Mom's on Medicaid. How Can I Help?

Fifty dollars a day.  Could that buy you a place to sleep and three meals?  A budget hotel would eat up the fifty dollar bill and then some.  Add breakfast, lunch and dinner at a bargain restaurant, and the total could easily jump to $100.00. 

And suppose you need care--the kind your elderly parent might need.  Help with bathing, dressing and medication reminders?  It's not hard to see that $50.00 a day doesn't go very far.

Welcome to the world of Medicaid.  For a light care resident in a Seattle adult family home, the State of Washington pays the provider $47.59 a day.   Less than $50.00! The rate goes up as the care needs increase, but the highest rate is $163.59.  Translated into monthly rent and care, we're looking at between $1428 and $4920.  Very few residents are assessed at the higher rates.  Those that are assessed higher are usually bed bound, can't feed themselves and need heavy attention by caregivers.

Assisted living providers are paid a bit more for Medicaid residents.  And this year, they got a long-deserved 2.5 per cent raise.  They are now paid between $67.22 and $163.89 a day.

If your parent is on Medicaid, or about to convert to Medicaid funding, you'll need to face some grim realities.  Then you'll see what you can do to help..

1.  Choices for Medicaid residents are shrinking.  Your parent's doctor may say, "Your mother needs memory care," and you think that translates into an assisted living community with a specialized memory care unit.  One problem:  Medicaid. funding.  In the Seattle area, there are only three communities that offer Medicaid in their memory care area, and that is only after two or three years of private pay.  In Washington State, Medicaid residents, whatever their cognitive state, generally go to adult family homes.  Many of these work out well.

2.  You may need to adjust your expectations.   If you know your parent will run out of money in a year or so, it's a good idea to search out places that take Medicaid and move your parent sooner rather than later.  Why?  Because providers often require a certain number of months of private pay before a resident switches to Medicaid.   Offering a provider some private pay months up front will give you more choices of homes.

3.  You can help provide extras for your parent.  Once your parent is on Medicaid, he will be contributing his income toward the cost of the care.  He will get a small monthly allowance, but that won't pay for everything,  You can buy clothes, pay for haircuts, purchase supplies, and even favorite foods that aren't on the menu.  Medicaid providers are often operating on a shoestring, and will appreciation your lending a hand.

Is your parent on Medicaid or transitioning to Medicaid?  Do you have any observations you'd like to share?

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