Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2016
The Division of Aging and Adults Services (DAAS) administers this 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 the kinds of services to specifically facilitate that care recipients 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.
In addition to being at least 65 years old and an Arkansas state resident, applicants must require an intermediate level of nursing home care and demonstrate a functional disability. For instance, assistance may be needed with Activities of Daily Living (ADL), such as eating, moving from one location to another, toileting, etc. The individual must also be willing to live at home and receive care and support there.
There are also financial considerations with regards to eligibility. This is a Medicaid waiver and, as such, persons interested in ElderChoices must be eligible for Arkansas long term care Medicaid.
Arkansas Medicaid Income Limits - In 2016, the monthly income limit for unmarried or widowed applicants is $2,199. Married applicants can distribute a certain portion of their joint income that is over the limit to their spouse as long as they are not applying for Medicaid as well.
Arkansas Medicaid Asset Limits - The 2016 asset limit is $2,000 for an individual. For a married couple with a single applicant, the non-applicant—who is sometimes called the community spouse—can have up to $119,220 in addition to the applicant's $2,000. Certain property is not included when calculating the value on one’s total resources, such as the home that they live in and a single vehicle.
Asset Transfers Considerations – Gifts and under-market value asset transfers are reviewed and the applicant may be penalized if these occurred within 5 years of the date of application. This policy was instigated to discourage individuals from giving away resources to friends and family for the express purpose of qualifying for Medicaid benefits.
Persons who are financially ineligible to receive Arkansas Medicaid but cannot afford their cost of care might consider retaining a Medicaid planning professional to help them re-allocate their financial resources into trusts and non-countable assets to allow them to qualify for services.