Arkansas Medicaid Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver

Page Reviewed / Updated - Feb. 2014

What is a Medicaid Waiver?
For persons with limited financial resources, Medicaid pays for nursing home care. For those who wish to live at home or in assisted living, sometimes Medicaid will pay for care in those locations if it can be obtained at a lower cost than in a nursing home. It does this through "Medicaid Waivers" which are also called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS Waivers) or Waiver Funded Services.

Waiver Description

This Arkansas Medicaid waiver is designed for the elderly and / or physically disabled individuals.  It is managed by the State of Arkansas, Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS).  The Living Choices Waiver's objective is to provide assisted living services in a residential environment to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of elderly or disabled persons.   Services are provided at state licensed assisted living residences.

It is worth noting that this is an HCBS Waiver and these waivers typically have enrollment caps.  Therefore they are not considered entitlement programs.  Waiting lists for services may exist.  Prioritization is usually by date of application but the severity of need may also be considered.

 Did You Know?
Assisted living communities in Arkansas are some of the least expensive in the country.   Average monthly fees are 15% lower than the national average. 


Eligibility Guidelines

Age and Level of Impairment Criteria
For persons 21 - 64 years of age, the level of impairment necessary to qualify for Living Choices is equal to full disability as determined by the Social Security Administration.  For persons 65 and older, they must require assistance to perform several activities of daily living such as eating, toileting or transferring.

Income and Assets Criteria
The financial restrictions for Living Choices are equal to that of Arkansas Medicaid.  The Medicaid 2014 income limit for an unmarried or widowed applicant is $2,163.  He or she is permitted up to $2,000 in countable resources.  Countable resources exclude assets such as the home, provided it is lived in and valued under $543,000, the primary vehicle and some personal effects.

Options for Persons over the Financial Limits
Arkansas residents who exceed the financial limits for Medicaid have two options.

1) Apply for Medically Needy Medicaid - for individuals with unusually high medical expenses, Arkansas offers a Medically Needy version of Medicaid.  Applicant's finances are reviewed relative to their medical expenses.  Should their monthly income come within a few hundred dollars of their monthly medical expenses, they can usually qualify for Medicaid.

2) Work with a Medicaid Planner - these financial professionals help Medicaid applicants qualify by re-structuring their financial assets in advance of their application.  Excess income can be allocated to pooled income trusts.  Assets over the limit can be converted in form from countable assets to exempt assets.   Find assistance qualifying for Medicaid in Arkansas.


Benefits and Services

Arkansas is different from many state Medicaid programs in that beneficiaries of this waiver have their room and board costs paid for by Medicaid.  Very often assisted living waivers only cover services.  In addition, the following services are provided.

  • Assisted living services
  • Attendant care
  • Extended prescription drug coverage
  • Medication oversight and administration
  • Non-medical transportation
  • Nursing evaluations and some nursing services
  • Pharmacist consultant services
  • Social and recreational activities


How to Apply / Learn More

The Living Choices waiver is administered by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS).  One should contact their local DHS county office by calling 501-682-2441.  More information is available in a downloadable pamphlet and on their webpage.