Overview of Home Care services from Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE): Comprehensive Assistance for Adults Age 55 and Older.

Federal government assisted, or even free home care, is provided by the PACE program. The service is for older Americans and it can help keep them out of a nursing home or assisted living facility. This financial assistance program may have the ability to provide low cost or even free home care to senior citizens and retirees who need additional support.

When the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) was integrated into Medicare as a permanent component in 1997, the first wave of baby boomers was only just reaching the age of eligibility. There are tens of millions of Americans who are right in the middle of hitting retirement age. Many of them are finding themselves burdened with high health care costs and the cost of paying for home or nursing care. Seniors are often having difficulties in finding funding for these bills. Affordable or free home care is offered by this government program.

That makes the financial help from PACE a more important option than ever, but it isn't the right choice for everyone. When a Medicare recipient opts into it, it becomes their only source of both Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The program is tailored to Medicare recipients who are in need of some form of assisted living, but would rather remain in their own home than transition to a nursing home. It is a particularly effective and convenient program for those who have that particular need, but there are some limitations to be aware of before making plans to jump into it.

Eligibility for Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

The most basic eligibility terms are to be enrolled in Medicare, at least age 55, and to be eligible for nursing home care. Once that age is hit financial assistance or free homecare may be offered.

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, PACE is not available everywhere. Only certain states offer the program, and some of those only offer it in certain counties and cities. However more and more states continue to add this home care financial assistance program. The Medicare website at medicare.gov has a ZIP code search function that will tell you if it is available in or near your area. Once enrolled in PACE, it is possible to opt out of the program at any time should you so desire.

What's Different About PACE?

The purpose of nursing home living is usually to address multiple health and welfare needs that would be difficult for an individual to keep up with while living independently. However, many people find themselves needing a more streamlined and centralized continuum of covered medical care but do not necessarily need assistance with daily living tasks. In essence, this pushes some people to enter nursing homes early due to the affordable and convenient bundle of medical services. PACE gives them the option of remaining in their home and community for longer with easier access to the medical services they need.

There appears to be a general lack of awareness about the program. Statistics collected by the National PACE Association indicate that enrollment has been slowly growing year over year since 2012, but ere are still many people who qualify yet have not applied and therefore are not PACE program members.

 

 

 

 

What Does PACE Look Like?

PACE usually center on an "adult day care" facility located near the program participant. An interdisciplinary team of medical professionals is on hand to attend to the member's various medical needs; these team members also meet regularly to ensure they are coordinating their efforts.

The participant visits the facility during the day, and at home is usually looked after by a spouse or family member. In some cases the federal government will help pay for, or provide free nursing care for the senior on PACE. It is possible for a family caregiver to be paid by the program for doing this. Some additional in-home and referral services are available when there is a need.

The PACE center is more than just a medical clinic. It's also meant to take care of the social and nutritional needs of program participants. These centers serve a hot and well-balanced meal and arrange social and recreational activities for their members to enjoy. Transportation is also arranged to get members to and from the center as needed. Or clients can find other free transportation for senior citizens.

What Are The Unique Benefits of the PACE Program?

PACE members continue to receive all the Medicare and Medicaid services they were eligible for prior to signing up for the program. This means that many of their medical as well as dental needs are addressed in addition to home care.

The local PACE organization is required to provide a number of additional services. The PACE center basically replicates the functions of a nursing facility but in the clients own home. There will be a few added features such as access to social workers or medical professionals such as nurses and the ability to fill prescriptions on site.

PACE also has provisions for hospice care. Participants can opt to receive their medical, mental health, social service and pharmaceutical care through the center. They cannot do this while electing a hospice benefit from an outside hospice organization, however.

Of course, the biggest benefit may well be the participant's ability to stay in a home and community they are comfortable with. This will often allow the senior citizen or person over the age of 55 to maintain close and regular connection to their family.

Apply to and free home care assistance from Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly

PACE has proven to be a win-win program; it not only improves outcomes for patients (particularly in terms of reducing rates of depression), but it also saves the federal government money. It provides direct financial aid to lower income seniors so they can afford to pay for costly home care services and also continue to live in their own home. The only main drawback to the program at present is geographic restriction, with centers more heavily clustered in the eastern states and more sparse offerings west of the Rockies outside of California.

 

 

 

 

However it continues to expand to more states and municipalities. Interest in the program will no doubt grow as elderly populations increase, but areas of low population density present an intractable problem in establishing the needed day care centers. To find a location that may offer PACE near you, search medicare.gov.

By Jon McNamara

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