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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 such as basic hygiene, bathing, getting dressed, and going to the bathroom, enabling a beneficiary to continue to live in his/her own home. Persons who reside in assisted living (residential care facilities (RCFs), but not nursing homes) can receive personal care paid for by Medicaid if the RCF is enrolled as a personal care provider with the state Medicaid program. The Division of Medical Services (DMS) administers the Personal Care program, together with the rest of the state’s Medicaid network.
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.
In addition, or as a possible alternative to the Personal Care program, several other Medicaid programs are available in Arkansas, which provide additional service options. Programs such as ARChoices, Alternatives for Adults with Physical Disabilities (for ages 21- 64), and the Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (a joint Medicaid & Medicare program) are also designed to facilitate consumer-directed care at home, such as hiring a family member or a friend to provide care.
Functional and Residence Requirements
Medicaid will cover Personal Care in Arkansas, 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. In order to receive Medicaid in Arkansas, an applicant must be a resident of Arkansas.
Income and Assets Requirements
Income and assets requirements for Medicaid are age dependent. Single residents, aged 65 and older, must not have a monthly income that exceeds 73% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is equivalent to 100% of the SSI Federal Benefit Rate. As of early 2018, this means that an individual cannot receive more than $735 a month in income, and a married couple with both spouses applying for services cannot have income in excess of $1,103 / month. This number is revised annually as the Federal Poverty Level is revised. Note that there are other previously mentioned 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 2018 for a single applicant, and $3,000 for married applicants. However, one’s home may be exempt (not counted towards the limit), given that it is not valued over $572,000 and the applicant lives in the home. A vehicle, life insurance policies that don’t have cash surrender value, household items, and burial trusts may also be exempt.
Note that persons who qualify for Medicaid by way of the Medically Needy Spend Down pathway are not eligible for personal care under this option. The Medically Needy pathway is a path of eligibility for individuals with high medical bills. Basically, one “spends down” their excess income on medical bills in order to reach Medicaid’s income limit.
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 bathing, eating and preparing food, exercise and mobility, assistance with medications, basic hygiene, laundry, shopping for essentials, and more. The categories of service a client may receive are based on his/her needs as determined by a physician. This program has zero co-pays for beneficiaries.
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.
In order to contact the state office, call (501) 374-6608. The toll-free number is 1-800-457-4454.