Personal Care is one of several services offered to residents of Arkansas who are in need of long-term services and supports (LTSS) through the Arkansas state Medicaid program. Personal Care is administered by trained providers and includes hands-on assistance with activities of daily living, such as basic hygiene, bathing, getting dressed, and going to the bathroom. This allows a beneficiary to continue to live in his/her own home. Persons who reside in assisted living (residential care facilities, but not nursing homes) can receive personal care paid for by Medicaid if the residential care facility is enrolled as a personal care provider with the state Medicaid program.
Eligible applicants for the Personal Care Program are able to self-direct their own care via the consumer-directed personal care state plan option called the Independent Choices program. Often called consumer direction, eligible applicants are able to hire, train, manage, and even fire the personal caregiver of their choosing. Friends and family members can be hired, except for spouses and legal guardians.
Another program in Arkansas that offers self-direction of services is ARChoices.
Medicaid will cover Personal Care in Arkansas for all state residents, regardless of age, if a doctor deems it necessary to deliver care to a recipient in the home or primary residence. However, one’s residence cannot be a nursing home or intermediate care facility.
Single residents, age 65 and older, must not have a monthly income that exceeds 100% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate. In 2023, this means that an individual cannot receive more than $914 a month in income. A married couple (regardless of if one or both spouses are applicants) cannot have income in excess of $1,371 a month. The income limits are revised annually as the Federal Benefit Rate is revised. Note that there are other previously mentioned Arkansas Medicaid programs that provide personal care to persons with higher income levels.
There is also a countable asset limit, which is set at $2,000 in 2023 for a single applicant, and $3,000 for married applicants. However, one’s home may be exempt (not counted toward the limit), given that the applicant’s equity interest is not over $688,000 and he or she lives in the home. The home is also exempt regardless of other circumstances if a non-applicant spouse lives in it. A vehicle, life insurance policies that don’t have cash surrender value, household items, and burial trusts may also be exempt.
Being over the income and/or asset limit(s) is not automatic cause for disqualification from Arkansas Medicaid. If one is over the limit(s), it is highly recommended that he or she seek the counsel of a Medicaid planner. These professionals are knowledgeable in restructuring finances to meet Medicaid’s requirements without jeopardizing one’s eligibility.
*Please note that there is a 60-month look-back period from the date of one’s Medicaid application to ensure assets were not gifted or sold for less than they are worth. If one is found to have violated the look-back period, one may be penalized with a period of Medicaid ineligibility.
Personal Care encompasses many categories of hands-on services that are provided in a person’s own home by a licensed caregiver. This includes assistance with the following:
To apply for Medicaid in Arkansas, contact the nearest county office of the Department of Human Services (DHS). A full list of local offices can be found here.
To contact the state office, call 501-682-8233, or toll-free at 800-482-8988.