Personal Care Services Program (formerly Personal Care Assistance Program)

 

Program Description

 Under this program, participants are able to hire friends and some family members to provide care.

The Personal Care Services Program (PCS), also referred to as the Personal Care Assistance Services Program, provides in-home personal care services to qualified Alaskan seniors and individuals with disabilities. Personal care services are defined as providing assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as eating, dressing, toileting, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL), such as meal preparation and assistance with medications.

Services under Alaska’s PCS program can be obtained using the state agency personnel to manage the program: this is referred to as the Agency-Based PCA Program or ABPCA. The state is responsible for hiring, supervising and making payments to the care providers. Alternatively, program participants can manage their own care services: this is referred to as Consumer-Directed PCA Program or CDPCA. Less formally, this type of program is sometimes referred to as Cash and Counseling, participant direction or self-directed care.

Under CDPCA, participants or their legal representatives hire, schedule and manage the individual(s) who provide personal care services. The state agency continues to be responsible for making payments to the care providers. Participants are able to hire friends and some family members to provide care. Spouses and legal guardians are not eligible to be care providers. However, other relatives including the adult children are eligible to be paid caregivers.

Did You Know?   Assisted living care in Alaska costs 2x the national average and nursing home care costs 3x the national average, but home care is only slightly more expensive than in the lower 48. 

Eligibility Guidelines

For eligibility, an individual must be an Alaskan resident and must need assistance with a minimum of one ADL or IADL. This is determined via a functional assessment. Their disability must be verified with supporting medical documentation. In addition, they must be financially qualified to receive regular Medicaid in Alaska called DenaliCare (as opposed to nursing home Medicaid or HCBS Waivers).

The 2017 Alaska Medicaid income and assets rules for aged, blind or disabled persons are as follows. Monthly income for unmarried, divorced or widowed applicants cannot exceed 75% of the Federal Poverty Level. This means that an applicant cannot have a monthly income in excess of $735. Married applicants are permitted up to $1,103 in monthly income.

Alaska Medicaid allows single applicants up to $2,000 in liquid assets. While that number may seem low, some high value assets are exempt. For example, as long as the homeowner lives in their home, or intends to return to their home, if the home is valued under $560,000, it is exempt. A vehicle may also be exempt. Married applicants are permitted countable resources valued at $3,000.

Families who are financially ineligible for Medicaid but still cannot afford to care for a loved one might consider working with a financial advisor to re-structure their resources so that they become Medicaid compliant. This is called Medicaid Planning and thousands of families benefit from it each year. Find assistance qualifying for Medicaid in Alaska.

 

Benefits and Services

 The PCA Program provides in home assistance with the activities and instrumental activities of daily living.

The types of physical assistance covered by this program include aid with the following ADLs: Mobility, such as moving from a bed to a wheelchair or repositioning of the individual in a chair, personal hygiene, such as grooming and oral care, bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating. Physical assistance is also provided with IADL, such as help with meal preparation, housework, shopping, medication monitoring, monitoring of vitals, and transportation assistance.

Program rules explicitly prohibited care being provided to persons who reside in assisted living residences or adult foster homes. 

 

How to Apply / Learn More

The PCA Program is administered by Alaska’s Division of Seniors and Disabilities Services and is managed by the Department of Health and Social Services. However, the application process is managed by private agencies: A list of agencies is available here. Select an agency from that list and contact them to begin the application process. To learn more about this program, which is available throughout Alaska, click here.  Be forewarned the language at that webpage is technical and not consumer oriented. For a consumer, friendly brochure, click here.

 Residents should also be aware of the Senior Benefits and Senior Access Programs. The former provides cash assistance and the latter help for home modifications.