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Submitted by Julie Reiskin, Executive Director Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, January 16, 2018
Did you know that you can keep your Medicaid benefits and work a full-time job? A lot of people don’t. Colorado has a program that will let you do just that – The Colorado Medicaid Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities. Are you ready to learn more? Keep on reading!
The expectation for most adults is to be a member of the American workforce. However, a significant barrier to people with disabilities integrating into the workforce is the impact increased income has on benefit eligibility. Knowing that traditional employer-provided health insurance will not work, the choice for an individual was to work and lose benefits or not work and keep benefits. The Medicaid Buy-in program removes the need to make such a decision.
Medicaid Buy-in is the realization of a program sought by the disability community for decades and has become one of the most successful work programs we have ever seen.
Medicaid Buy-in works by having employed individuals pay a monthly premium from $25 to $200, based on their income. The significant difference between Medicaid Buy-in and regular Medicaid is that Buy-in does not care about assets. This is the only disability program in Medicaid that allows you to save money, have life-insurance, etc.
This program allows you to access regular Medicaid services and certain HCBS (Home and Community Based Service) waivers. Not all HCBS waivers are implemented under this program yet but are in the process of being considered for inclusion.
You must be:
The employment requirement is very lenient. You can have any job, full-time or part-time; self-employed or working for someone else. As long as you are paid for real work, you will meet the eligibility requirements.
Disability status for Medicaid Buy-in uses the same criteria as Medicaid – Social Security Administration (SSA) state disability determination process.
For example, if you earn $1500 per month from a part-time job, you would subtract $65 and divide the rest in half.
$1500 – $65 = $1435 $1435 / 2 = $717.50 counted income per month.
How do you participate in the Medicaid Buy-in Program?
For more information directly from the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy & Financing, go to Health First Colorado Buy-In Program For Working Adults With Disabilities
There is also a Medicaid Buy-In Program for Children with Disabilities. That program has some different rules but is a way for children with disabilities to have Medicaid with higher parental income.
For more information directly from the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy & Financing, go to Health First Colorado Buy-In for Children with Disabilities.
The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing is the department responsible for the Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working Adults with Disabilities.
The Medical Services Board to adopt the rules that govern the Department’s programs. You can link to a PDF document of the full regulations here: Medicaid Buy-In Program for Working Adults with Disabilities (PDF)
There are no committees dedicated to buy-in but those of us working on employment issues in general, focus on addressing buy-in issues when appropriate. We are working with members of the Colorado Congressional delegation to discuss systems issues and with the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing as needed to address application issues.
If you are interested in receiving notification of action on this matter, please subscribe to the CCDC alerts via our membership Become a Member of CCDC and check “Employment” and “Medicaid” as issues that interest you.
Many individual’s problems are successfully resolved by HCPF. However, there is still the need for education of county workers on the rules regarding the Medicaid Buy-in Program.
A few common themes include:
This is not accurate. Buy-in is available now in EBD (Elderly, Blind, and Disabled), BI (Brain Injury), SCI (Spinal Cord Injury), and CMHS (Community Mental Health Supports) waivers and they are working on implementing it in the SLS (Supported Living Services) waiver program. There was a state Medicaid Director letter in 2013 informing counties that Buy-In is available with HCBS.
While this is a program that does not have an asset test, the state has to see if you are eligible for a free program first. Regular HCBS has no premium but has an asset limit of $2000.
Assuming your income is not too high, and this is a termination, you should appeal. In the case of a termination, you should always appeal. (See the link below for appeal information.) If you are told you have too many assets, contact the program Administer in the Important Contacts section below.
If an SSDI beneficiary goes through their nine-month trial work period, and they are making above Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) they will lose the SSDI cash benefit. If you leave SSDI to begin working, you may need to have a State Level Disability Determination done again.
The CCDC Individual Advocacy Program takes all Medicaid Buy-in cases. Contact the Individual Advocacy team by calling 303-839-1775 extension 2. Leave your name, number, when you called, and a brief explanation of your issue. We will return your call within 24 to 48 hours during regular business hours.
Known systems issues: There are two major systemic issues that we are working on resolving, but the resolution will likely require help from Congress.
This is based on the theory that people are eligible for Medicare at age 65. There are three problems with this.
The reason there are asset limits in long-term care programs is to address the public policy decision that Medicaid should not be an inheritance protection program, especially for middle or upper-middle-class seniors that have had a lifetime to save for long-term care needs. This focuses on elders, not people with disabilities who age.
CCDC is working to change the law to allow people who have been continuously working to keep their Medicaid Buy-In status, not be required to reduce their income, and will enable them to maintain their assets such as retirement savings before they are ready and able to retire fully. People should not have to get rid of hard-earned assets accumulated while on the program only because they have turned 65. The legislative focus is to allow individuals to continue on the Medicaid Buy-in program.
This program is the only option for people with disabilities to get out of poverty by engaging in gainful employment. This is not an inheritance protection issue. Additionally, this population has NOT had a lifetime to prepare for long-term care needs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average number of weeks an individual was unemployed in August 2017 was 24.4². Therefore the 10-day requirement is ludicrous and unacceptable requiring a more stringent standard for enrollment in this program. CCDC is working to change this condition to the state instead that “as long as an individual is on unemployment (available to work and looking for a job) they will remain eligible for the Medicaid Buy-in program.”
Currently, to remain in compliance with this requirement, it is recommended that a second job be available. CCDC can assist with this option.
Program Administrator: Beverly Hirsekorn
phone: 303-866-6320 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LTC Expert, Eligibility Section: Eric Stricca
Phone: 303-866-4475 Email: email@example.com
The CCDC Individual Advocacy team
Phone: 303-839-1775 ext 2. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado has a state-supervised and county-administered human services system. County departments are the primary provider of direct services to Colorado’s families, children, and adults. Locate the information you need at https://www.colorado.gov/cdhs/contact-your-county.
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.
Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.