Background Paper

Rebalancing Long-Term Care: The Role of the Medicaid HCBS Waiver Program
March 3, 2006


Cynthia Shirk, Consultant


This paper reviews the history and background of the Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waiver program. It describes the eligibility, benefits, and financing structure, as well as the trends in program expenditures over time. The paper considers the contribution of the HCBS waiver program toward improving access to community-based care for Medicaid beneficiaries who are elderly and disabled and discusses the barriers that remain. This paper also summarizes the provisions included in the recently enacted Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that may further expand Medicaid HCBS and considers how it may continue the process of redefining the concept of long-term care.

Related Materials

See also "Shaping Medicaid and SCHIP through Waivers: The Fundamentals" (Background Paper No. 64, July 22, 2008).

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