Family Caregivers as Needed Partners: Recognizing Their Role in Medicaid Managed Long-Term Services and Supports

Heather J. Williamson, Elizabeth A. Perkins, Oliver T. Massey, Julie A. Baldwin, Amie Lulinski, Mary I. Armstrong, Bruce L. Levins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) in the United States are supported by both formal Medicaid-funded long-term services and supports and family caregivers. Lack of alternative housing options and wait lists for long-term services and supports means the role of the family caregiver is and will continue be critical. Rising long-term services and supports costs combined with goals to improve care coordination and access to services are driving more states to change the design of their long-term services and supports systems to a Medicaid-Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) approach. Best practices for implementing MLTSS for individuals with IDD include acknowledging the family caregiver role. The current study's aim is to understand how family caregivers and their roles are recognized in MLTSS for adults with IDD in Kansas. Kansas was selected given their unique approach to MLTSS for adults with IDD, referred to as KanCare. In-depth semi-structured telephone interviews were completed with 31 stakeholders in Kansas, including statewide/regional representatives (N = 13), service coordination providers (N = 7), and family caregivers (N = 11). Additional family support services were available in KanCare, but families had difficulty accessing them. No formal processes were reported for assessing the needs of family caregivers in KanCare and families found communications with managed care entities challenging. Families reported difficulties with taking on responsibility of managing in-home supports and there were concerns about being paid to provide care as a guardian. Family caregivers play a critical role in MLTSS, including assisting with care coordination and access to services. However, their role was not formally acknowledged in KanCare. Future research, practice, and policy efforts should focus on promoting family caregiver assessments and identifying best practices for supporting family caregivers in MLTSS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-225
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Caregiver
  • disability
  • intellectual disabilities
  • long-term care
  • managed care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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