american rescue plan

Lee administration plans to spend $400M on services for people with disabilities

Gov. Bill Lee speaks at a press conference in Nashville on March 22, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee’s administration is earmarking $400 million in federal recovery money to provide home and community support services to people with disabilities.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, TennCare and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) announced a bold plan to invest up to $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds in direct supports for thousands of Tennesseans in need.

The funds, made available through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), will provide home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults and individuals with disabilities across Tennessee, allowing them to live safely in their homes, support family caregivers, and live their lives as independently as possible within their communities.

“Through this historic investment, Tennesseans with disabilities will have greater opportunities to live independently, participate in the workforce and reach their fullest potential,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “It’s my hope that this enhanced support will shine a light on the important services that caregivers provide and change the lives of Tennesseans across our state.”

“This infusion of funding represents the single largest investment in HCBS services in the state’s history,” said Stephen Smith, TennCare Director. “It is an opportunity  made possible by the TennCare III demonstration approved in January of this year, since the availability of shared savings and additional federal funding via the waiver will help ensure continued state support of these important investments once the federal funding has expired.”

“Serving more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their employment, community engagement, and independence goals has been a top priority for both DIDD and TennCare since day one,” said DIDD Commissioner Brad Turner. “This is an investment that will change lives, provide relief to family caregivers and direct support staff, and further our vision of supporting people to live the lives they envision for themselves.”

TennCare’s federally-approved plan, developed in partnership with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), is based on broad stakeholder input and focuses on two primary objectives:

  1. Increasing access to home and community-based services for those in need; and
  2. Strengthening the frontline workforce that delivers services to those enrolled in HCBS programs.

This historic plan accomplishes two priorities established by Governor Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly prior to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Provides services to 2,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, clearing the TennCare Employment and Community First CHOICES program waiting list
  2. Invests in recruitment, training and retention of frontline support staff to better serve Tennesseans with disabilities.

Additional information about the plan can be found here.