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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: February 1, 2017 01:24 PM
From: Senator Michele Brooks
To: All Senate members
Subject: Aging Waiver Eligibility
In the near future I will be introducing a piece of legislation that will deduct Medicare Part B premiums from the countable income of an individual applying for the Aging Waiver. The Aging Waiver program provides home and community based services to seniors who require nursing facility care but would prefer to live independently in their own homes. It has been proven that not only do our seniors age better at home but it also reduces healthcare costs. This legislation will ensure that many older Pennsylvanians will be able to access these valuable home and community based services that are essential to their well-being.

The individuals applying for the Aging Waiver must be at least 60 years old and require the level of care typically provided in a nursing home. Additionally, they must also qualify financially for Medicaid, or Medical Assistance. The income limit for an individual applying for the Aging Waiver is $2,199 per month. However, in calculating a senior’s income, the Department of Human Services (DHS) counts the senior’s Medicare Part B premium even though seniors must automatically pay these premiums each month (usually taken out of their Social Security benefit). For example, a senior may receive $2,120 a month in Social Security which would seem to be below the waiver income limit of $2,199. However, DHS adds the Medicare Part B premium- typically about $104 a month- on to the amount of the senior’s Social Security which results in that senior being determined to be over income for the waiver even though the income available to the senior is below the waiver limit. A senior who is over the income limit by just $1 has no way of qualifying for waiver services, regardless of their expenses. Seniors should not be penalized from other vital services because DHS counts as income $104 that is never even available to the senior to spend. This piece of legislation would help them to still receive their Medicare benefits and qualify financially for the Aging Waiver so they can age peacefully in their homes instead of utilizing another, more costly option that removes them from their homes.

Please join me in cosponsoring this piece of legislation that would greatly help our older Pennsylvanians and their families.