Media Release - Aging Caregiver's Law Change Expands Enrollment

Friday, September 21, 2018 | 08:15am

Friday, September 21, 2018

Cara Kumari


NASHVILLE – Persons with developmental disabilities who have an aging caregiver may now qualify to enroll into TennCare’s Employment and Community First CHOICES program.

The General Assembly passed a law that offers enrollment of people with developmental disabilities into the Employment and Community First CHOICES program  if the person’s primary custodial caregiver is 80 years of age or older.  Previously, only persons with intellectual disabilities were eligible to enroll into home and community based waiver services through the aging caregiver’s law.

“I’m grateful the law change provides an opportunity for people with developmental disabilities to receive much-needed supports.” Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Debra K. Payne said.  “This will assist a person to remain in their homes while providing relief to caregivers who have worked tirelessly to care for their loved ones.”

”The implementation of Employment and Community First CHOICES represents the first time in Tennessee’s history that home and community based services have been available to people with all kinds of developmental disabilities,” said Patti Killingsworth, TennCare Chief of Long-Term Services and Supports. “Supporting family caregivers is one of the primary goals of the new program.  We want to offer the services that people with disabilities and their family caregivers say they need most.  This change in the law allows us to do that at a time in life when those supports and the peace of mind that comes from knowing they are in place may be desperately needed.”

The Employment and Community First CHOICES program provides supports to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them live as independently as possible, work, and be part of their communities.   More than 2,700 people in Tennessee receive supports through the program. 

Persons who may qualify for supports through the Aging Caregiver’s Law should fill out a self-referral form on the TennCare website.  If they need help to apply, they should call their health plan at the number on their TennCare card. 

Persons who do not receive TennCare and need help to apply should contact the DIDD Intake office in their region.  The self-referral form and contact information can be found here:

The law was sponsored by Sen. Ferrell Haile and Rep. Bob Ramsey.  It passed both chambers unanimously. 


About the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is the state agency responsible for administration and oversight of community-based services for approximately 8,000 people with intellectual disabilities as well as 4,000 people through the Family Support Program.   Every day, the department strives to support people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives.  It does so by ensuring people are free to exercise rights, engage with their broader communities and experience optimal health.  DIDD is the first and first state service delivery system in the nation to receive Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership.  It has also been recognized as a national leader in its efforts to increase competitive, community-based employment outcomes for people with disabilities. 

About TennCare

TennCare is the state of Tennessee’s Medicaid program which provides health insurance to approximately 1.4 million low-income Tennesseans including pregnant women, children, caretaker relatives of dependent children and older adults, and adults with disabilities.  With a satisfaction rating above 90 percent since 2009 TennCare provides health insurance, including long-term services and supports, through the use of managed care.