Overview of Oregon’s Consumer-Employed Provider Program
Through Oregon’s Consumer-Employed Provider Program (formerly Client-Employed Provider), elderly and disabled state residents receive in-home care assistance to delay and / or prevent unnecessary nursing home admissions. This participant-directed program provides “consumer-employers” (program participants) assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). This includes bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, transitioning (i.e., from the bed to a chair), preparing meals, and light housecleaning. Especially relevant for persons with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias, program participants can also receive assistance with cognition. This includes offering prompts to assist one in remembering and completing their ADLs and IADLs.
The program participant is responsible for finding, hiring, managing, scheduling, and firing their own caregiver, which CEP formally calls a “homecare worker”. While persons can look for a homecare worker on the Oregon Homecare Commission Registry website, friends and family members can also be hired to provide care. This includes adult children, and even spouses, but spouses must be hired through the Spousal Pay Program, which is part of the CEP Program.
CEP “homecare workers” must enroll as such with the Consumer-Employed Provider Program. The individual (caregiver) must be 18+ years old, be capable of performing the required tasks, complete a provider enrollment packet, undergo a background check, and attend a homecare worker orientation. The financial aspects of being an employer, such as tax withholding and issuing caregiver payments, are handled by the state.
Program participants who cannot self-direct their own care have to option to elect a representative, such as a relative or friend, to do so on their behalf. A representative cannot also be the “homecare worker” (paid caregiver).
Program participants can reside in their own home or the home of a friend or family member. They cannot live in an adult foster care home or an assisted living residence.
The CEP Program is an entitlement program. This means meeting the state’s Medicaid eligibility requirements guarantees one will receive benefits. Put differently, there is never a waiting list for benefits.
The Consumer-Employed Provider Program is a regular state Medicaid program. This program was previously called the Client-Employed Provider Program. The program also used to offer live-in caregivers as a program benefit. However, this is no longer an option. Instead, only hourly assistance is provided. Program participants can receive up to 40 hours / week of assistance.
Medicaid in Oregon is called the Oregon Health Plan. The Oregon Supplemental Income Program-Medical (OSIPM) is the program through which the elderly and disabled receive medical care.
Participant-directed care may also be called self-directed care or consumer-directed care. In Medicaid-speak, it is commonly called “Cash & Counseling”. With participant-directed care, program participants are allotted a budget and given freedom to select long-term services and supports to assist them in living independently. Most popular is the option to hire the caregiver of their choosing to provide assistance, such as personal care and homemaker services. Friends and relatives, including adult children, are commonly able to be hired. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly common that one’s spouse can be hired as the caregiver.
Benefits of the Consumer-Employed Provider Program
Program participants work with a case manager to develop a service plan, which determines which benefits an individual will receive and the amount of hourly assistance (up to 40 hours / week) that can be provided. Follows are potential benefits via the CEP Program.
– Personal Care Assistance – i.e., assistance with mobility, transferring (i.e., from a chair to standing), bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, toileting, and cognition
– Homemaker Services – i.e., housecleaning, preparing meals, shopping for essentials, and transportation
– Health-Related Tasks – i.e., blood sugar testing, wound care, insulin injections
– Medication Management / Oxygen Management
Eligibility Requirements for Consumer-Employed Provider Program
The CEP Program is for Oregon residents who are elderly (65+) or physically disabled (18+). Additional eligibility criteria are as follows.
Financial Criteria: Income, Assets & Home Ownership
The applicant income limit is equivalent to 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR), which increases on an annual basis in January. In 2021, an applicant, regardless of marital status, can have a monthly income up to $2,382. When both spouses are applicants, each spouse is considered individually, with each spouse allowed income up to $2,382 / month. When only one spouse is an applicant, the income of the non-applicant spouse is not counted towards the income eligibility of his/her spouse. Furthermore, monthly income from the applicant spouse can be transferred to the non-applicant spouse as a spousal income allowance, also called a monthly maintenance needs allowance.
In Oregon, there is a minimum income allowance, which is set at $2,177.50 / month (effective July 2021 – June 2022). This is intended to bring a non-applicant spouse’s monthly income up to this amount. There is also a maximum income allowance, which is $3,259.50 / month (effective January 2021 – December 2021), and is dependent on the non-applicant spouse’s shelter and utility costs. This monthly maintenance needs allowance is intended to ensure the non-applicant spouse does not become impoverished. To be clear, a non-applicant spouse’s own monthly income combined with the income allowance from the non-applicant spouse cannot exceed $3,259.50.
In 2021, the asset limit is $2,000 for a single applicant. For married couples, with both spouses as applicants, each spouse can have up to $2,000 in assets. When only one spouse is an applicant, the assets of both the applicant and non-applicant spouse are limited, though the non-applicant spouse is allocated a larger portion of the assets to prevent spousal impoverishment. (Unlike with income, Medicaid considers the assets of a married couple to be jointly owned). In this case, the applicant spouse can retain up to $2,000 in assets and the non-applicant spouse can keep up to $130,380. This larger allocation of assets to the non-applicant spouse is called a community spouse resource allowance.
Some assets are not counted towards Medicaid’s asset limit. These generally include an applicant’s primary home, household furnishings and appliances, personal effects, and a vehicle.
Assets should not be given away or sold under fair market value within 60-months of long-term care Medicaid application. This is because Medicaid has a look back rule and violating it results in a penalty period of Medicaid ineligibility.
The home is often the highest valued asset a Medicaid applicant owns, and many persons worry that Medicaid will take their home. Fortunately, for eligibility purposes, OR Medicaid considers the home exempt (non-countable) in the following circumstances.
– The applicant lives in the home or has “intent” to return to the home and his / her home equity interest is no greater than $603,000. Home equity interest is the current value of the home minus any outstanding mortgage.
– A spouse lives in the home.
– The applicant has a disabled or blind child (any age) living in the home.
– The applicant has a minor child (under 21) living in the home.
To learn more about the potential of Medicaid taking the home, click here.
Medical Criteria: Functional Need
An applicant must require a nursing facility level of care (NFLOC). For the CEP Program, the tool used to determine if this level of care need is met is the Client Assessment and Planning System (CAPS). An applicant’s ability to complete activities of daily living (i.e., transferring from the bed to a chair, mobility, eating, toileting, bathing) and instrumental activities of daily living (i.e., housekeeping, medication management, shopping, laundry) are assessed. Relevant to some persons with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, behavioral problems, such as regular attempts to leave the facility or removal of one’s clothes, are also considered. A diagnosis of dementia in and of itself does not mean one will meet a NFLOC. A service priority level is generated during the assessment process. There are 18 levels, with 1 being the highest level of assistance required and 18 the least. For the CEP Program, an applicant must receive a service priority level between 1 and 13.
Qualifying When Over the Limits
Having income and / or assets over Medicaid’s limit(s) does not mean an applicant cannot still qualify for OR Medicaid. There are a variety of planning strategies that can be used to help persons who would otherwise be ineligible to become eligible. Some of these strategies are fairly easy to implement, and others, exceedingly complex. Below are the most common.
When persons have income over the limits, Miller Trusts, also called a qualified income trust can help. “Excess” income is deposited into the trust, no longer counting as income.
When persons have assets over the limits, they can “spend down” excess assets on ones that are exempt (not counted). While this includes purchasing clothing and home furnishings, irrevocable funeral trusts (IFTs) are another option. IFTs are pre-paid funeral and burial expense trusts that Medicaid does not count as assets. Persons might also opt for a Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPTs). Countable assets are put into MAPTs and are no longer considered owned by the Medicaid applicant. Unfortunately, a downfall of this strategy is that it should be implemented well in advance of the need for care. There are many other options when the applicant has assets exceeding the limit.
Inadequate planning or improperly implementing a Medicaid planning strategy can result in a denial or delay of Medicaid benefits. Professional Medicaid planners are educated in the planning strategies available in the state of Oregon to meet Medicaid’s financial eligibility criteria without jeopardizing Medicaid eligibility. Furthermore, there are additional planning strategies that not only help one meet Medicaid’s financial criteria, but can also protect assets from Medicaid’s estate recovery program. These strategies often violate Medicaid’s 60-month look back rule, and therefore, should be used with extreme caution. However, there are some workarounds, and Medicaid planners are aware of them. For these reasons, it is highly suggested one consult a Medicaid planner for assistance in qualifying for Medicaid when over the income and / or asset limit(s). Find a Medicaid planner.
How to Apply for Oregon Health Plan Consumer-Employed Provider Program
Before You Apply
Prior to submitting an application for the Consumer-Employed Provider Program, applicants need to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria. Applying when over the income and / or asset limit(s) will be cause for denial of benefits. The American Council on Aging offers a free Medicaid eligibility test to determine if one might meet Medicaid’s eligibility criteria. Take the Medicaid eligibility test.
As part of the application process, applicants will need to gather documentation for submission. Examples include copies of Social Security and Medicare cards, bank statements up to 60-months prior to application, proof of income, and copies of life insurance policies, property deeds, and pre-need burial contracts. Unfortunately, a common reason applications are held up is required documentation is missing or not submitted in a timely manner.
To apply for the CEP Program, applicants should contact their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) office or Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) office. Contact information by county can be found here. Alternatively, persons can call the Oregon Department of Human Services at 1-800-282-8096.
For additional information, a Consumer-Employed Provider Program Homecare Worker Guide can be downloaded here. Persons can also contact the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-673-2372. The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) Office of Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) administers the Consumer-Employed Provider Program. The Oregon Homecare Commission Registry for finding a homecare worker can be found here.
Approval Process & Timing
The Medicaid application process can take up to 3 months, or even longer, from the beginning of the application process through the receipt of the determination letter indicating approval or denial. Generally, it takes one several weeks to complete the application and gather all of the supportive documentation. If the application is not properly completed, or required documentation is missing, the application process will be delayed. In most cases, it takes between 45 and 90 days for the Medicaid agency to review and approve or deny one’s application. Based on law, Medicaid offices have up to 45 days to complete this process (up to 90 days for disability applications). However, despite the law, applications are sometimes delayed even further.