Arkansas Medicaid Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver

Page Reviewed / Updated - Jan. 2016

What is a Medicaid Waiver?
Medicaid is an entitlement program for persons with limited financial resources.  Medicaid pays for nursing home care when an elderly individual requires it and cannot afford it. For those who wish to live at home or in assisted living, sometimes Medicaid will pay for care in those locations if it can be obtained at a lower cost than in a nursing home. It does this through "Medicaid Waivers" which are also called Home and Community Based Services (HCBS Waivers) or Waiver Funded Services.

Waiver Description

The Living Choices Assisted Living Waiver (ALW), managed by the State of Arkansas Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), provides 24-hour personal care services in a congregate or community setting to avoid the unnecessary institutionalization of the elderly and disabled. This program usually can provide services at a lower cost than in an institutional nursing home setting. The DAAS arranges to provide the services at state licensed assisted living residences. This waiver may also assist individuals currently residing in a nursing home to transition to congregated housing.

While this community living waiver offers an alternative to nursing home care, the state may set enrollment limits. This means that statewide demand may exceed the cap and a waiting list will form. Prioritization is usually by date of application, but the severity of need may also be considered.

 Did You Know?  Assisted living communities in Arkansas are some of the least expensive in the country.   Average monthly fees are 15% lower than the national average. 

2016 Eligibility Guidelines

Program staff will determine whether to accept an application based on the following rules:

An applicant must be between the ages of 21 – 64 and have a physical disability or be blind, or be 65 years of age or older.

Level of Impairment Criteria
Regardless of age, the individual must require a level of care that is consistent with an intermediate level of nursing home care. He or she must require assistance to perform several activities of daily living such as eating, toileting or transferring, or be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, or have a medical condition, where their level of impairment requires regular supervision.

Income and Assets Criteria
The financial restrictions for Living Choices are equal to that of Arkansas Medicaid. As of 2016, an unmarried or widowed applicant cannot have a monthly income that is greater than 300% of the current Social Security Income (SSI). This means an applicant cannot have a monthly income greater than $2,199. He or she is permitted up to $2,000 in countable resources. Countable resources do not include the home, provided it is lived in and valued under $552,000, the primary vehicle, and some personal effects.

Options for Persons over the Financial Limits
Arkansas residents who exceed the financial limits for Medicaid have two options:

1) Apply for Medically Needy Medicaid - for individuals with unusually high medical expenses, Arkansas offers a Medically Needy version of Medicaid.  The state considers the applicant's finances relative to their medical expenses.  Should their monthly income come within a few hundred dollars of their monthly medical expenses, they can usually qualify for Medicaid.

2) Work with a Medicaid Planner - these financial professionals help Medicaid applicants qualify by re-structuring their financial assets in advance of their application.  Excess income can be allocated to pooled income trusts.  Assets over the limit can be converted in form from countable assets to exempt assets.  Find assistance qualifying for Medicaid in Arkansas.


Benefits and Services

In this program, Arkansas is more generous than other state Medicaid programs in that beneficiaries of this waiver have their room and board costs paid for by Medicaid.  Very often assisted living waivers only cover the care services provided by assisted living.  In addition, the following services are provided.

  • Assisted living services
  • Attendant care (Assistance with Activities of Daily Living, such as eating, dressing, using the bathroom, etc.)
  • Extended prescription drug coverage
  • Medication oversight and administration
  • Non-medical transportation
  • Nursing evaluations and some nursing services
  • Pharmacist consultant services
  • Social and recreational activities


How to Apply / Learn More

The Living Choices waiver is administered by the Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS).  One should contact their local DHS county office by calling 501-682-2441.  More information is available in a downloadable pamphlet and on their webpage.