(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Medicaid providers serving clients in their homes and communities who are aging, struggling with high mental health needs, or who are physically or developmentally disabled, may now request financial support to help stabilize their workforces, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today.
“Historically, it has been difficult to attract and retain qualified staff needed to serve all the Medicaid clients who prefer to remain in their homes, and the pandemic has made that even more difficult,” said DHS Division of Medical Services Director Elizabeth Pitman. “When asked how we could use new, one-time federal funding, providers and clients said the workforce remained the biggest challenge.”
Across the state, about 78,000 Arkansans get Medicaid-funded services in their homes and communities.
The state has about $150 million in combined state and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support home and community-based services (HCBS). DHS worked with providers who serve these populations to outline areas of greatest need and areas where an infusion of federal funds would have the greatest positive impact on clients. DHS also talked with clients across these different populations to identify their greatest needs and get their feedback about this plan. As a result, DHS will provide the funding in different phases.
Phase 1 will focus on HCBS Workforce Stabilization Incentive Program. This funding will be used to help providers with retention and recruitment efforts. About $112 million is available for this phase and must be expended by DHS by March 31, 2022.
“The enhanced funds will provide us with the opportunity to make substantial investments in our home and community-based programs, and we are thankful for all of the providers and clients who helped us develop and fine-tune our plan,” Pitman said.
Clients in several existing programs will benefit from this funding. They include, but are not limited to:
• AR Choices
• Independent Choices
• Living Choices
• Community and Employment Supports (CES) Waiver
• Behavioral Health Services
• Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
• Autism Waiver
• State Plan Services: personal care, private duty nursing, home health
DHS will closely monitor the spending of the funds to make sure they are used for their intended purpose – to help the providers better serve our vulnerable clients. An online portal has been developed to help with oversight and audit tasks, so everyone involved will be able to work together easily and efficiently for that common purpose.
Providers can submit applications starting on Friday, February 25. Applications must be submitted before midnight (CST) on Friday, March 11. The application can be found here. Questions about the application process can be sent to Arpa9817-Provider-TA-Center@guidehouse.com.
For more information, visit https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/u/HCBSincentive.
For more information about programs offered through DHS visit humanservices.arkansas.gov.