Are Tennesseans ready for CHOICES?
Is the state ready to provide CHOICES throughout Tennessee?
We hope the answer to both questions is “yes.”
Under the CHOICES program, administered through TennCare, Tennesseans can receive long-term care services in home and community-based settings. CHOICES, which debuted in Middle Tennessee in March, rolls out through the rest of the state August 1.
Prior to CHOICES, almost all of Tennessee’s Medicaid funding was directed to nursing homes, where care typically is more expensive. Under the new system, Tennesseans have greater choices in where and how they receive help with everyday necessities like meals and housekeeping, enabling them to remain in their homes longer. That allows the state to care for more people without spending more money.
That also means people who have not been eligible for TennCare in the past may be eligible for CHOICES.
To find out, contact your local Area Agency on Aging and Disability, which serves as the one-stop shop for anyone with questions about eligibilty. The statewide toll-free number is 1.866.836.6678.
Those currently enrolled in TennCare can contact their MCO for information about CHOICES.
About 1,900 people are currently receiving home and community-based services (HCBS) through CHOICES. The state expects to have enrollment of at least 9,500 in the first year but can reach even more people due to changes in the way services are now provided.
“With CHOICES, if a person leaves the HCBS program, the slot can be filled immediately,” said TennCare long-term care chief Patti Killingsworth, who administers the program. “So, we have the capacity to serve some 11,000 Tennesseans in the community during the first year of the program alone should there be a need, all using existing long-term care funds.”
Steps are also being taken to ensure that folks currently receiving services will not have those services disrupted during the transition. TennCare is working with East and West Tennessee managed care organizations to make the transition as seamless as possible.
“Members (of TennCare) will continue to receive the same long-term care services from the same providers for at least 30 days following implementation, and until each member's Care Coordinator completes an in-home assessment and develops a new plan of care based on the needs of each member,” said Killingsworth.
AARP Tennessee volunteers and staff advocated for the expansion of these types of services for more than a decade. “Now that more Tennesseans than ever are able to receive this much needed help, we are eager to monitor the program’s progress and help ensure people are aware of its availability,” said AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly.
For more information, download a fact sheet on the CHOICES program. Read about CHOICES on TennCare's website or on our blogs.