Page Reviewed / Updated - Dec. 2018
AR Choices provides a variety of services to assist Arkansas residents in living independently, such as in their own home, in the home of a relative, or in an adult family home. This program not only assists in meeting their needs, but also helps to reduce premature nursing home placements. Services/benefits available include home modifications (for example, installation of ramps for wheelchair access or the addition of grab bars), adult day care, respite care, assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)/Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) (bathing, putting on/taking off clothes, meal preparation, light housecleaning, etc.), and more.
Attendant care services may be self-directed, meaning an AR Choices program participant may hire, train, and manage the caregiver of their choosing. This is done through the related AR Independent Choices Program. Family members, with the exception of spouses and legal guardians, and friends can be hired to provide care.
AR Choices in Homecare, also referred to as AR Choices, is a relatively new Medicaid Waiver for frail elders and physically disabled adults, which was implemented in January of 2016. This waiver merged two former waivers, Elder Choices (EC) and Alternatives for Adults with Physical Disabilities (AAPD). AR Choices in HomeCare is operated by the Arkansas Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS).
To be eligible for AR Choices, an applicant must be a resident of Arkansas who is physically disabled between the ages of 21 and 64, or is 65 years of age or older. In addition, functional and financial requirements must also be met. All applicants must require a nursing home level of care and require a minimum of one of the services offered through AR Choices. Financially, as of 2019, a single applicant must not have income greater than $2,313 / month. This figure is equivalent to 300% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). Countable assets, which are assets that are easily converted to cash, such as bank accounts, mutual funds, and stocks, are limited to $2,000 for an individual. However, several assets are considered non-countable (exempt), such as one’s primary home, given the value does not exceed $585,000 and the applicant or his/her spouse resides in it. Additional exemptions include household goods, burial trusts, and personal items, such as one’s wedding ring.
For those who do not meet the financial requirements, there are ways to effectively lower one’s income and assets in order to meet program eligibility. For instance, Miller Trusts and Irrevocable Funeral Trusts are effective ways to lower one’s income, and additional assets can be spent on exempt (non-countable) assets, such as modifying one’s home to be wheelchair accessible. If one is over the income and / or asset limit(s), it is highly recommended he/she seek the counsel of a professional Medicaid planner.
Please note: It is crucial that one does not give away assets or sell them cheaply in order to meet Medicaid’s asset limit. This is because Medicaid has a look-back period (60-months in Arkansas) in which all past asset transfers within the defined period are reviewed. If one has gifted assets or sold them under fair market value, he/she will be ineligible for Medicaid for a determined period of time.
Via AR Choices Medicaid waiver, case management, as well as the following services may be available:
For additional information on AR Choices or to apply, one can call the Choices in Living Resource Center at 1-866-801-3435 or contact their local Department of Human Services (DHS) county office. An AR Choices program brochure can be downloaded here and additional information can be found on the DHS website.