Breaking Ground 102 - Katie Beckett Waiver: What is it and what do families need to know?

Content adapted from DIDD's Katie Beckett webpage

“Katie Beckett” waivers are Medicaid programs for children with disabilities and complex medical needs. The important aspect of many Katie Beckett programs: they include children who otherwise would not qualify for Medicaid because their family’s income is too high.

In 2018, Tennessee passed a law to create a Katie Beckett program just for children who otherwise would not qualify for Medicaid. Right now, Tennessee is waiting for the federal government to approve the state’s plans for the program. The program will be managed by the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, and the TN Dept. of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD). Those agencies are getting ready to start the program as soon as possible once it is approved.

How will the program work?

Tennessee’s Katie Beckett program has two parts.

Part A (Managed by TennCare Managed Care Organizations)

  • Will serve up to 300 children with the most significant disabilities or complex medical needs.
  • Will enroll based on a thorough assessment of needs and Medicaid eligibility process.
  • Children in Part A will be enrolled in Medicaid, which means they will have access to full Medicaid benefits like home health, private duty nursing, durable medical equipment and supplies, and occupational, physical and speech therapies - in addition to the services in the Katie Beckett program.
  • Children in Part A will also get up to $15,000 a year in home and community- based services.  These are non-medical services that help families care for children in their homes, like respite for caregivers and home/vehicle modifications.

Part B (Managed by DIDD)

  • Will serve up to 2,700 children with disabilities or complex medical needs who do not qualify for Part A.
  • Will enroll on a first come, first served basis when the program opens.
  • Children in Part B will not be enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Children in Part B will get up to $10,000 a year in home and community-based services, with flexibility to choose any or all of the following services within their budget:  help paying insurance premiums, a health-care savings type account, respite, or different types of services from a community-based provider.

When and how can families sign up?

TennCare and DIDD have been collecting forms from people who are interested in applying for the program. This is not an official application for the program and does not put you “in line” for a spot.  But if you fill out an interest form, DIDD and TennCare will let you know when sign-ups start and will share other information about the program.

To fill out an interest form, call your DIDD Regional Office at:

  • West Tennessee Regional Office:  (866) 372-5709
  • Middle Tennessee Regional Office: (800) 654-4839
  • East Tennessee Regional Office: (888) 531-9876

Not everyone who fills out an interest form may qualify for the program. Katie Beckett will serve as many eligible children as program funding will cover.

Where can I find updates and more information about the program?

To stay up to date on the Katie Beckett Program, visit this page.

You can also follow the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and TennCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Read Katie Beckett Information from TennCare, Dept. of I/DD