Important Update: As of January 1, 2016, the ElderChoices Waiver and the Alternatives for Adults with Physical Disabilities Waiver were merged and became a new Medicaid waiver called ARChoices. This webpage is maintained strictly for historical purposes only.
Services are specifically chosen to increase the beneficiary’s ability to live on their own or with family caregivers.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging and Adults Services (DAAS) administers the Arkansas ElderChoices Medicaid waiver. With this program, the DAAS serves elderly state residents that require nursing home level care. Participating individuals receive care at home, in the homes of their family, or in their community instead of in a nursing home.
The DAAS has selected various services that are intended to specifically facilitate care recipients so they can live independently or with family. Services such as adult day care and respite care enable the primary caregivers to work and avoid burn-out. Services such as chore and homemaker decrease the individual’s dependence on family members.
Program beneficiaries are given a degree of flexibility in the selection of their care providers. While not nearly as much flexibility as in some states, in Arkansas, one may choose from a set of pre-approved providers rather than the state simply sending a caregiver without regards to the individual’s personal preferences. The ElderChoices waiver may allow relatives, with the exception of a spouse or a legal guardian, to provide services for the qualified individual. In order to do so, they must meet provider service qualifications.
To receive services under the ElderChoices Waiver, one must first be eligible for Medicaid in Arkansas and then one applies for the ElderChoices Waiver. While the Waiver does not have separate eligibility criteria, it does serve a limited number of individuals and therefore a wait list may exist. The following requirements are current for the calendar year 2017.
Age Requirements – Applicants must be a minimum of 65 years of age. This Waiver is not available to persons under 65 years of age even if they are disabled.
Residency – Applicants must be legal, residents of Arkansas. No specific length of residency is required. Persons new to the state are eligible as well as long term residents.
Income – Single applicants have can monthly income up to $2,205 (annually up to $26,460). Married applicants will have their incomes considered separately. Some joint income can be allocated to the non-applicant spouse to effectively reduce the applicant’s income. It is recommended one consult with a Medicaid planner to discuss this option prior to applying for Medicaid.
Assets – Single applicants are permitted up to $2,000 in countable assets. However, many assets are not counted towards that limit. These include the value of one’s home equity provided it does not exceed $560,000, a vehicle, home furnishings and personal items. For married couples, some joint assets can be allocated to the non-applicant spouse (called the “Well Spouse”). Doing so can be complicated but can permit the spouse to retain up to between $60,000 – $120,000 in countable assets. For persons or couples who exceed these asset limits, there are a variety of other approaches and strategies that can help them preserve assets and gain eligibility. Learn more.
It is important to note that past asset transfers or sales made up to 60 months preceding the application date will be reviewed. This examination is conducted to ensure no gifts were made or assets were sold for less-than-market-value. Medicaid may penalize applicants for these transactions by delaying the onset of eligibility for several months or even years. Again, a Medicaid planner may help a family assess and rectify such a situation.
How to Apply / Learn More
This waiver is available statewide throughout Arkansas. To learn more or apply, one can download a brochure, visit the state website or call 1-501-682-2441. To apply one should contact their Department of Human Services county office.
Waiting lists may exist as it is estimated that the waiver has been approved to provide assistance to a maximum of 5,600 recipients concurrently.