Frequently Asked Questions
Joining Independence Care System
No. There is no fee to join Independence Care System.
You can become an ICS member if you:
- Have a chronic illness or disability that requires assistance with activities of daily living.
- Need long-term care services (e.g. home care) for more than 120 days.
- Receive or are eligible for Medicaid.
- Are 18 years or older.
- Live in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens or the Bronx.
- Are able to stay safely at home.
The time varies depending on a potential member’s Medicaid status. If a potential member has active Medicaid, it usually takes between 4-6 weeks to become enrolled. If a potential member needs to apply for Medicaid, the application process can be 2-4 months.
Physicians and Hospitals
Yes, ICS members keep regular fee-for-service Medicaid to cover things like hospitals, doctors, labs and radiology. This means that our members keep their current Medicare/Medicaid coverage for physician and hospital services. Independence Care System does have a provider network for many of our covered services including dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, physical, occupational & speech therapists, transportation and medical supplies. For these covered services, Independence Care System members will be required to transition to our network providers within 90 days of becoming a member.
Our provider network can be found here. All of our providers are selected based on their ability to provide excellent services to our members in an accessible location in the neighborhoods where our members live. Each provider is reviewed and interviewed by our staff, and we visit their offices to make sure they can accommodate people with mobility devices. We seek feedback from our members on the quality of the service they receive from our providers.
Members remain eligible for prescriptions paid for by fee-for-service Medicaid or Medicare or both.
Existing income or savings do not necessarily exclude someone from eligibility for Medicaid. New York State allows some people with disabilities who have assets and/or income above the usual Medicaid limit to be eligible for Medicaid, without spending down assets or income; an ICS Medicaid Eligibility Specialist will help you.
You can work and still receive Medicaid. The amount you can earn without affecting your Medicaid eligibility depends on your Medicaid status. For example, many people who have income can qualify for Medicaid coverage if they have extensive medical costs to manage (e.g. home care costs, prescription drug costs, etc.). Members with disabilities who are Social Security recipients (e.g. Social Security Disability-SSD or Supplemental Security Income-SSI) may be eligible for the Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS) program. There is also a Medicaid buy-in program that allows people who work and need home care to pay for their Medicaid benefit. ICS staff can determine your status and the amount of your surplus income and then inform you of options available to manage your surplus and qualify for Medicaid.
No. You can own a house and receive Medicaid as long as you live in it. However, Medicaid can place a lien on any proceeds from the sale of the house.
Independence Care System is a Medicaid managed long-term care plan. Since we receive payments through Medicaid, we are required to be on the lookout for Medicaid Fraud and Abuse. We have a program at ICS to investigate any activities that may be fraudulent or abuse the use of Medicaid money. If you suspect that an ICS staff member or one of our providers has done something that may be a case of fraud or abuse of Medicaid, you can call the ICS Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Hotline at 855-427-8477. Any person who calls the hotline to report fraud they believe to be true is protected from retaliation. Click here for ICS Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Policy .
I want to keep my current home care worker and home care agency. Can Independence Care System make it work?
Independence Care System has working relationships with over 40 home care agencies. We understand how important it is to have a good working relationship with a home care worker, and we make every effort so that you can stay with your home care worker. However, there are times when a new member’s worker is with an agency with which ICS doesn’t have a contract. If it is not possible for us to contract with that agency, you will have to change to a home care worker employed by an ICS provider. We will work hard to make sure it is a good match.
Yes. Every member of ICS is required to get care in their home, at an adult day care program or if needed, in a nursing home.
If I want to change my personal care aide, can I? Will I be penalized by ICS or the home care agency?
Your home care worker is one of the most important elements to keeping you at home and independent in the community. We have found that people with stable home care relationships have better lives. The relationship has to work for both people. Your Care Manager can help you to make sure that you are setting good boundaries, communicating clearly and ensuring that you have realistic expectations for the member/worker relationship. If you cannot make a relationship work with a given home care worker, you can request a change and there is no penalty.
Yes. ICS contracts with over 40 licensed Home Care Agencies. ICS paraprofessional staff can work with you to make a match that works for you.
Yes. Members who need new wheelchairs are evaluated by a physical or occupational therapist to determine the type of chair that is needed. ICS also has a dedicated wheelchair repair service to help members maintain their current wheelchairs in good working condition, and we also arrange for replacement of parts. If you have Medicare or private insurance, ICS is required to bill them first before we can move forward with repairs; this can delay the timing of repairs.
Arrangements for a new wheelchair can take approximately 6 to 8 months, though our goal is to reach an average of 3 months once the assessment process with a therapist begins. Members need a doctor’s prescription before an appointment can be made for the wheelchair clinic. If you have Medicare or private insurance, ICS is required to bill them first before we can move ahead with ordering your wheelchair. This process does add additional time to the ultimate delivery date. Once the wheelchair does arrive, we make sure that it is properly fitted to meet your individual needs.
ICS offers a weekly Wheelchair Maintenance Workshop, free of charge, to help our members to maintain their wheelchairs and scooters. Members have access to a technician to perform preventive maintenance and light repairs in our “Jiffy Lube” shop located in the ICS Brooklyn office. The workshop takes place every Wednesday, either by appointment or by “rolling in.”
ICS staff can help you fill out the proper paperwork for affordable accessible housing in New York City. You can also get help from our Advocacy Department, which will work with the New York City Housing Authority’s Disability Unit to make sure that your case is given the highest priority afforded under NYC regulation. The Advocacy Department can also help you to advocate for improved accessibility in an existing housing unit.
Yes, as long as the SRO allows residents to receive home care services in the building.
ICS has a Member Council that meets on a regular basis to provide feedback on services and learn about the organization and what is happening in health care. Members of the Member Council attend several meetings per year and are interested in helping ICS become a better organization. They can represent themselves as well as the concerns and needs of all members. For more information, contact ICS Coordinator of Social Programs Latricia James at email@example.com or 718-907-1622.
ICS Care Managers can link members to vocational (job) training programs through New York State Adult Career and Continuing Education Services—Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR), formerly Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID).
Any ICS staff member can accept a complaint from an ICS Member. Your complaint will be promptly investigated and you will be alerted to the resolution. You are encouraged to work with your Care Manager, the Unit Leader and the Advocacy Department to see if a solution to your complaint is possible. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, all ICS members have the right to file a grievance.
ICS is a nonprofit Medicaid managed long-term care plan. It is not an HMO; we do not have a closed, geographically limited provider network. While we do contract with various health care providers who deliver to our members all of the state’s guaranteed covered MLTC services, our members are free to stay with their own physicians—whoever and wherever they are—because physician fees (as well as other fees, e.g., for radiology, mental health services, family planning services) are paid for by fee-for-service Medicaid, not ICS.
ICS currently has staff members who speak English, Spanish, Russian and Cantonese. We make every effort to make sure that our staff speaks your language so that you will receive the best services. If there is a time when an ICS staff member you are working with does not speak your language, our staff has access to the ATT Language Line for help in translation. Members with hearing impairments can use the New York State relay system at 800-421-1220.
ICS is funded through Medicaid revenue and charitable grants or contributions.
ICS opened its doors on April 1, 2000.