PACE: What It Is and How to Apply

nurse checks elderly woman's blood pressure

The Programs for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) offer extensive health care to people 55 and older who are nursing home eligible but wish to be treated in their community. This means you can get the extensive health care you need while still living at home. People who qualify for PACE usually also qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and are considered to be in poor health with chronic conditions that need continual monitoring. With PACE, you will work with a team of health care professionals to get the coordinated care you need while still maintaining your independence.

The history of PACE

PACE was developed in the Chinatown-North Beach area of San Francisco in the early 1970s to serve the frailest people in the community. It was originally called On Lok Senior Health Services, On Lok meaning “peaceful, happy abode” in Cantonese. The program was modeled after British day hospital programs, but funding and research were provided by the federal Administration on Aging. As of 2018, there are 123 PACE programs operating in 31 states serving over 45,000 participants.

Services offered by PACE

Because PACE serves people with chronic needs within their community, many people use PACE extensively, anywhere from 2-7 times per week. PACE provides a continuum of care and services to those who need it most. Although PACE recipients may be required to see a PACE-approved doctor, they still offer a variety of services. The following are a few of the services offered by PACE:

  • Primary care
  • Dentistry
  • Emergency services
  • Home and hospital care
  • Meals and nutritional counseling
  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Prescription drugs (a Part D plan is not necessary if you have PACE)
  • Preventative care
  • Social services like support groups and respite care
  • Transportation

How to apply 

To qualify for PACE, you must be 55 or older, live in an area with available PACE services, need a nursing home-level of care, and be able to safely live in your community with help from PACE. To find out if you qualify for PACE, search for PACE plans in your area or contact your local Medicare office.

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