2024 Policy Summit & Hill Day

Grab your seat at the table + amplify the impact of your advocacy at our lowest rates by registering before July 12.
RSVP Today
Connections - 01.31.22

Wait List Management: American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Funding Update

Share this page

by Stephanie Crouch, MediSked

 Stephanie Crouch, MediSkedSet off by the COVID-19 public health emergency, the urgent need to expand services to individuals within home and community-based settings became apparent. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 allowed states to submit plans to CMS qualifying them for a 10% FMAP increase for certain expenditures.

States could plan to use the funding to expand eligibility and increase access to HCBS, offer a broader range of community-based services, make long term investments in HCBS infrastructure, support compliance with the home and community-based settings regulatory criteria and promote community integration, strengthen the direct service workforce, address social determinants of health, and improve equity for older adults and people with disabilities.

CMS has fully approved 48 states’ spending plans and narratives, and many states were able to plan for some very innovative ways to use this funding. Amongst the plans, 20 states planned to use the funding to directly address wait lists in some manner.


Adding slots to the Elderly and Disabled waiver program to increase capacity of the program.



Eliminating the ALW waitlist.



Creating an incentive payment program to encourage providers to consolidate current vacancies in congregate settings and redistribute the savings to individuals on the state’s residential wait lists.



Expanding the iBudget Waiver, allowing the greatest number of individuals permissible to be removed from the wait list.



Providing targeted case management assistance with waiver applications to ensure people are applying for the correct waiver and will also link to a project for a one-time screening of members on waitlists.



Performing a study I/DD and PD wait lists.



Developing and assessing people on the waitlist with a focus on connecting individuals to the state plan or community services to meet immediate needs. This assistance focuses on educating the individual and their support system of available resources with a goal to divert or delay the need for long-term services and supports. A study is also being conducted on the current wait list procedures to develop a standardized waitlist management strategy as well as a comprehensive needs assessment including social determinants of health to develop a plan to meet needs and prevent institutionalization while waiting for an available slot in an HCBS waiver program.



Expanding the Choices HCBS Waiver  to increase the number of program slots by 1,000, to increase access to the program.



Assisting people to move from facilities or provider-controlled settings or people currently on the wait list for these settings, to a home of their own.



Increasing capacity to 1915(c) waivers and reducing wait lists. In year one they will enroll an additional 1,600+ members in HCBS across five waivers.


North Carolina

Increasing waiver slots and which will lead to reduction of wait lists for four of NC Medicaid’s HCBS programs.


New Mexico

Providing a Supports Waiver outreach and education campaign including calls to waitlist members. They will also create a public facing central registry database which would allow members to see their position on the wait list, how long it is typically taking a family to move through the wait list, whether additional documentation is needed, available services through each waiver program, and how to access supports waiver while on wait list. Lastly, they will increase the number of 1915(c) HCBS waiver slots to reduce or eliminate the wait list by adding 400 developmental disability waiver clients.


New York

Allowing providers to apply for infrastructure or administrative assistance through development fund or a grant process for specific goals which may include the ability to lower wait lists.



Planning to procure a wait list assessment and navigation vendor to contact every person on the wait list to strengthen and expand HCBS services by determining their individual needs, as well as provide case management and navigation services. This project will lead to long-term expansion of HCBS programs in Oklahoma.



Expanding services including respite and family support services to those on wait lists for Intellectual Disabilities/Autism services.


Rhode Island

Expanding intensive HCBS to remove wait lists by investing in more appropriate care sooner to lead to quicker recovery and cut down on longer hospital stays.



Increasing access to Employment and Community First CHOICES referral (waiting) list by increasing the number of individuals served by 2,000 individuals.



Increasing additional slots by 1,548 across 6 HCBS programs to serve more Texans in the community.



Providing one time funding or limited services to support people on HCBS waiver waiting lists for three years.


West Virginia

Increasing slots by 650 across 3 HCBS waivers to increase capacity of people served.


Over 800,000 people are waiting for waiver services with the number increasing each year. Serving more individuals in the community and in a more timely manner was certainly a need before the public health emergency, but it became evident how critical the need was to reduce the number of individuals in congregate settings in order to separate individuals infected with COVID-19. More information on states spending plans and narratives can be found on the Medicaid website.

Stephanie Crouch is a Senior Consultant at MediSked, the leading brand in holistic solutions that improves lives, drives efficiencies and generates innovations for human service organizations that support our community. Previously, Stephanie worked in state government for seven years as a home- and community-based services program manager in Nebraska where she managed the administration of 1915(c) Waivers, the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and the state plan Personal Assistance Service. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Communications.