Arizona’s Medicaid Program for Long-Term Care

Everyone should consider potential long-term care needs when planning their estates. Long-term care includes medical and support services for routine tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating, which can be provided at home or in a professional setting such as a nursing home or assisted living facility. But without proper planning, the costs of long-term care can leave you financially drained and without the medical services you need.

The Arizona Long-Term Care System (ALTCS) is the arm of the Arizona Medicaid program that provides long-term care coverage for qualifying individuals. Your eligibility is based on meeting specific income and asset requirements. Estate planning can help your application fall within Medicaid limits when the time comes, especially if you start the process early.

What is ALTCS?

Arizona’s State Medicaid Program (AHCCCS) provides general medical coverage for low-income individuals. ALTCS focuses specifically on individuals who are 65 or older or have a qualifying disability and need long-term care.

To qualify for benefits, an individual must be a U.S. citizen or qualifying immigrant residing in Arizona with a valid Social Security Number. Applicants must also meet financial and medical criteria.

Financial Eligibility

The financial requirements for ALTCS are complex. To qualify, an individual’s gross monthly income cannot exceed specific amounts, which are adjusted annually for inflation. Assets are also limited and separated into countable and uncountable resources. The state analyzes these resources to determine Medicaid eligibility.

Countable resources include:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Real property (other than your primary residence)
  • Additional vehicles
  • Stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposit

The following are uncountable assets:

Note: Different rules apply to married couples, so talking to an estate planning attorney can help ensure you comply with Medicaid requirements.

Medical Eligibility

Applicants undergo a Pre-Admission Screen (PAS) for a functional and medical assessment. An assessor primarily looks at the applicant’s ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). These include activities like dressing, bathing, cleaning, cooking, and toileting. Generally, applicants who need hands-on care to perform ADLs are eligible.

What Long-Term Care Services Does Medicaid Provide?

Medicaid can help cover a wide range of costs for older Arizonans, including:

  • Costs for in-home care, assisted living, community-based services, and skilled nursing homes
  • Medical expenses, mental health care, prescriptions, and hospice

How Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help

Many people need Medicaid to afford long-term care in Arizona but find themselves in a bind — too wealthy to qualify for assistance, but not wealthy enough to pay for services out of pocket. An estate planning lawyer can use effective legal tools like trusts, asset transfers, and spend-down strategies to meet the Medicaid income and resource tests.

It’s important to know the state employs a five-year lookback rule to evaluate Medicaid eligibility. Asset transfers made during that time could trigger a penalty that renders you ineligible for a certain period. A well-drafted estate plan can maintain your eligibility for Medicaid while preserving your assets for the future.

Contact an Arizona Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Questions about long-term care and estate planning in Arizona? Pennington Law, PLLC has the answers. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.

Andre L. Pennington attributes his passion and success as an Arizona estate planning lawyer and licensed financial professional to one thing: wanting to do what’s right for his Family.