Massachusetts pays for home health care for eligible seniors through the state’s Medicaid program, known as MassHealth. The MassHealth Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver funds many different types of senior living arrangements, including home health care and facility-based senior care.

Massachusetts’ Home and Community-Based Services Waiver

Massachusetts seniors can get free or low-cost home health services if they participate in the MassHealth HCBS waiver program, which is known as the Frail Elder Waiver (FEW). This waiver is intended to reduce the admissions to senior care facilities, such as assisted living and nursing homes, while helping meet all the needs of older adults who choose to age in place in their own homes. The MassHealth HCBS waiver is comprehensive, providing home health workers, non-medical in-home caregivers and other home-based personal services, such as chore assistance for seniors with disabilities.

Eligibility Requirements for MassHealth and the HCBS Waiver

MassHealth beneficiaries aged 60 and over may be eligible to receive home and facility care through FEW if they meet the waiver’s enrollment requirements. In addition to the age restriction for FEW and the income and asset limitations for MassHealth enrollment, seniors who wish to participate in the FEW program must meet the clinical requirements of disability or frailty, as defined by program intake requirements and verified by a doctor during the intake process. In order to receive care services at home, enrollees must be able to stay safely in their own home or in the home of a caregiver, as verified by a home visit by a caseworker during the application process. While FEW participants are required to enroll in MassHealth before they can apply for a waiver, some special income and asset guidelines apply just to the waiver program. These are a partial relaxation of the usual financial limits placed on younger adults applying for MassHealth.

Other HCBS Services

The FEW program funds other services that seniors getting home health care might find useful. In addition to respite care and other facility-based options, seniors participating in the HCBS program can also get help with non-emergency transportation, items for the home, such as furniture and personal items like clothing or cookware, and limited home modifications if they own their own residence. A program worker can help beneficiaries apply for these benefits, as can intake workers and case managers with a local Area Agency for Aging.