Alaska seniors can access financial assistance for assisted living costs if they qualify for Medicaid and require a nursing home level of care. The fiscal aid is provided by the Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver. With an average monthly cost of $6,830 for assisted living in Alaska, according to Genworth’s 2021 Cost of Care Survey, this can make a significant impact on affordability for those who qualify. Currently, Alaska does not offer other types of financial assistance for seniors in assisted living communities, though there are often community programs that can provide specific support services.

What Is the Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver?

The Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver was created to help those who need a nursing home level of care remain within their communities, whether in their own homes or a residential facility. To be eligible for this waiver, seniors must be Alaska residents and meet certain income and asset limits determined by state legislation. An individual must also be at least 65 years old or have a documented qualifying disability.

For those who receive the waiver, payments will not apply to room and board within the assisted living community, but are available to cover the advanced needs determined by a service coordinator. This can include skilled nursing, assistance with personal care, meals, specialized medical equipment and environmental modifications if allowed by the care home.

The Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver is not an entitlement program, so there are limited resources available. This means seniors may be put on a waiting list until a spot becomes available for them.

What Is a Nursing Home Level of Care?

Needing a nursing home level of care, as defined by the Senior and Disability Services Division of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, is a requirement for the Alaskans Living Independently Medicaid Waiver. To be determined eligible, seniors must undergo an assessment by someone from their local Medicaid office. This assessment is often used with supportive medical records to score the applicant. Although Alaska doesn’t publish the specific criteria needed to meet a nursing home level of care, there are guidelines that are generally accepted for Medicaid purposes. Seniors usually must experience issues and need assistance with some combination of the following:

  • activities of daily living
  • instrumental activities of daily living
  • medical needs (catheter placement, IVs, etc.)
  • cognitive issues (memory loss or thinking impairment)
  • behavioral issues (aggression or impulse control)

Once an assessment is completed and all supporting documentation is gathered, the applicant is given a score that determines the recommended level of care. If the score meets the threshold for a nursing home level of care, the next step is to identify and set up the supportive services that will aim to ensure the individual remains within their community.