PACE stands for “Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.” PACE is a nationwide healthcare program designed to support seniors in remaining in their home, rather than having to go into a nursing home to get the care they need. Most people prefer to remain in their homes and communities as they age, but many cannot do so without an extensive network of support, even if they have family caregivers.
The philosophy behind the Michigan PACE program is that it is better for seniors and their families to have long-term care needs met in the community whenever possible. The program gives seniors and their families access to an interdisciplinary team of care providers, including doctors, nurses, therapists, aides, and social workers. This team coordinates services ranging from preventive care to long-term care allowing seniors to avoid institutionalization and remain in their familiar environment.
What Services Does the Michigan PACE Program Offer?
The Michigan PACE program offers a wide variety of services, some of them available at one of 24 centers throughout the state. At PACE Adult Day Health Centers, for instance, seniors can receive:
- Care from on-site physicians and nurses
- Physical, recreational, and occupational therapy
- Activities and exercise
- Social services
- Dental care
- Nutritional counseling
- Lunch and socialization with other seniors
But PACE services are much more expansive than what is available within the walls of a PACE center. Other supportive services include home health care; transportation; medication (both prescription and over-the-counter); provision of medical equipment (like wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, oxygen tanks, and diabetic testing supplies); and support for families and caregivers. The Michigan PACE program also provides inpatient and primary medical care, among other services.
Who is Eligible for the PACE Program in Michigan?
There are some restrictions on eligibility for the Michigan PACE program. To qualify for the program, individuals must meet the following criteria:
- At least 55 years of age or older
- Lives within the approved geographic area of the PACE agency from which services are sought
- Medically qualified and meets Medicaid’s long-term care eligibility criteria
- Can live safely in the community (not within a nursing facility) at the time of enrollment in the PACE program
- Is not simultaneously enrolled in the Medicaid MIChoice waiver program
- Is not simultaneously enrolled in a health maintenance organization (HMO).
When an eligible senior enrolls in PACE, their health insurance is moved to the PACE program, which coordinates all of the senior’s coverage (including Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance) to pay for the services provided.
Although most participants in Michigan PACE programs are lower-income, any Medicare recipient can apply for and be accepted into the program if they meet other eligibility requirements and pay a monthly fee ($4,100 and up, depending on the location of the program).
How Can I Enroll in PACE?
Enrolling in the Michigan PACE program is a three-step process. First, there is an initial intake assessment in which a PACE provider determines whether the senior likely meets eligibility requirements. The staff member explains the model of care and how the program works to the senior.
The second step in the process is a more thorough assessment. The prospective participant meets with a team of providers who will be instrumental in his or her care. After the team assesses the senior’s circumstances and needs, they create a plan of care.
Lastly, a Personal Care Team member will meet with not only the senior but his or her caregivers to go through the care plan and explain the terms of the enrollment agreement. The prospective participant and their family will have the opportunity to ask questions before committing to the program.
While PACE operates throughout Michigan, the program does not serve every area. However, there are 14 independent PACE agencies that serve 24 localities throughout the state. You can find a PACE program in your area online.
How Can I Learn More About PACE and Other Alternatives to Nursing Home Care?
Although PACE has been around in Michigan for over fifty years, surprisingly few people are aware of the Michigan PACE program and the benefits it offers for older Michiganders and their caregivers.
If you are interested in learning more about long-term care and nursing home alternatives for yourself or for a family member, consider speaking with an experienced elder law attorney. Elder law attorneys concentrate on all areas of the law that are relevant to seniors, including planning and paying for long-term care needs.
At our office, we frequently work with seniors and their families to identify their care needs and options for care. We can help you understand the programs that are available to meet your needs, and connect you with care and support that is right for you.