This article continues our discussion on the costs of assisted living care in Maine, looking at MaineCare in this piece.

In the last article, we stated private pay costs for Continuing Care Retirement Communities at $6,000 per month at the lowest.

For Residential Care homes, the costs are $4,500 to $5,500 per month as private pay.

Relatively few people can sustain these costs in their retirement years. That is why we say that assisted-living communities can be a wonderful consumer choice if you can afford it, but that really, they are not the solution to the growing need for our state population of older people figuring out what to do if they are short on financial resources.

MaineCare is a social assistance program that administers federal funding through the state and helps to pay for living and care expenses. People with disabilities or people over age 65 who do not have enough money to pay for medical care, home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care may qualify.

Eligibility is tied to income levels. There are many specific rules regarding home ownership and the amount of assets held by a couple or an individual seeking to qualify for MaineCare. The rules are complex. The MaineCare Eligibility Manual is available online. However, it is complicated reading, and we recommend professional advice after reading the basic advice in this document.

Realistically, it is very difficult to understand how MaineCare rules fit your individual situation, and every person’s circumstances are unique. If you own a home and have cash assets greater than $100,000, it is wise to consult an elder law attorney, and even better to do so well in advance of your actual need.

If you have little in the way of cash assets and monthly pension/Social Security income, and either own a house or rent, a social worker or the director/admissions counselor of assisted living communities will help you understand if you qualify for MaineCare.

The simple truth is that there will never be enough MaineCare beds in assisted living and memory care communities and in-home service support to meet the tremendous need in our state. This is why it is infinitely better to plan well in advance before you are in a crisis.

These are different types of care and housing options for seniors receiving MaineCare. When you apply for MaineCare, a social worker will assess how many activities of daily living (ADLs) a person needs help with, and then recommend the appropriate level of care. (PNMI is the state term for MaineCare funded long term care.)

Homecare: There are many agencies that provide help with bathing, dressing, toileting, housecleaning, and errands, through the In-Home Supportive Services Program. At times a family member may qualify as a reimbursed caregiver.

Assisted Living: A care community where they help you with ADLs such as bathing, dressing, grooming, taking your medications, toileting and eating. There are a limited number of MaineCare beds determined by the state. There can be up to a two-year waiting list for entry.

MaineCare communities need private pay cash flow to maintain their operations. They simply do not get paid enough to reasonably function on state money alone. For this reason, if you medically qualify for assisted living services and have some assets, it is very wise to spend down your assets in a facility that has MaineCare beds.

When your funds are depleted, you will then access MaineCare from within the community. The social worker or admissions counselor will help you. We see this as not only a smart, win-win situation, but also as being a good citizen who is helping to keep our important MaineCare communities afloat.

Nursing Homes: Now called Long-term Care Facilities, they provide convalescent or custodial care under a physician’s orders. The criteria for needing long-term care is usually being wheelchair bound and unable to transfer from bed to chair without the help of two or more people.

These Private Nonmedical Institutions (PNMI) are residential communities with MaineCare beds:

Bath
• Winship Green (443-9772) A long-term care convalescent care community.
• The Plant Home (443-2244) also has subsidized beds but is not a MaineCare facility. It provides assistance from an endowment with preference to Bath residents.

Brunswick
• Avita of Brunswick (729-6222) requires a minimum two-years private pay, then MaineCare.
• Coastal Shores (725-5801) is the former Skolfield House.
• Dionne Commons (725-4379)
• Horizons (725-7495) is the former Amenity Manor.
• Mere Point Nursing Home (373-3646)

Camden
• Quarry Hill (921-6100)
• Merry Gardens (973-3571) is a state subsidized Affordable Assisted Living Facility, but not through MaineCare; there are co-pays for the housing and care.

Freeport
• Hawthorne House (865-4782)
• Freeport House (865-3500)

Lincoln County
• Elder Care Network of Lincoln County is a consortium of small assisted living Lincoln County communities in Damariscotta, Edgecomb, Wiscasset, Round Pond, Waldoboro, Jefferson and Boothbay that have MaineCare beds. This is an excellent community of smaller residential care homes. They do not accept more than middle stage memory loss. Private pay is $4,500/month.
• Riverside Memory Care (563-4200) is part of Chase Point Assisted Living. The memory care section accepts MaineCare, the assisted living section does not. They are both part of the Miles Hospital campus.

Lisbon
• The Lamp Memory Care Center (353-4318) has 38 beds and accepts all levels of memory loss residents.

Richmond
• Richmond Eldercare (737-8911) has 16 beds and accepts memory loss residents as long as they don’t wander, and has assisted living. Private pay is $121 per day.

Further information:
• The Maine.gov website can search all assisted living communities in Maine: www.maine.gov
• Spectrum Generations Coastal Community Center in Damariscotta: 563-1363
• Spectrum Generations and People Plus Center in Brunswick: 729-0757
• Maine Health Care Organization: www.mehca.org

Every day we have conversations with seniors trying to sort out “What’s next.” We hope this article assists you in finding the right avenue for counseling regarding MaineCare. So please … plan ahead!