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Understanding Waivers & Medicaid

What is a waiver?

A waiver is a Medicaid funding source that can provide services to assist people with disabilities to stay in their own homes and prevent moving to a facility.  The county board pays approximately 40% of the cost of waiver services and the state and federal government pay approximately 60% of the cost of services. This cost sharing allows the county board to serve more people in our community.

Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) Administered Waivers

Level One Waiver

Allows for minimal paid support and relies heavily on natural supports.

Self-Empowered Life Funding Waiver

Allows for a moderate amount of support and is Ohio’s first self-directed waiver.

Individual Options Waiver

For individuals with limited or no natural support and who have a high level of need.

Waiver Types

Waiting Lists

Recent changes to Ohio's Waiting List for home and community-based services waivers will make it easier to identify a person's needs and arrange needed services. The changes to the Waiting List include a statewide assessment tool used to better understand a person's need for services. 

Waiting Lists


A Medicaid card is included with the waiver service package and may cover therapies, hospital services, nursing services, home health aides, doctor and dental appointments, and medical equipment.

Understanding Medicaid

Medicaid is a program of the federal government that provides support for certain individuals who meet Medicaid eligibility requirements.

The Medicaid program is administered at the federal level by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities has local Medicaid administrative responsibilities to assist individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities provides and authorizes services to many individuals who are Medicaid eligible because of limited income and assets due to their disability. Service Coordinators assist individuals and families with the paperwork to become Medicaid eligible.

People who are Medicaid eligible might live in an Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID), which is funded with federal Medicaid dollars and matched with state dollars. Generally, federal funds represent about 60% of costs and “match” funds represent approximately 40%.

An alternative to the ICF/IID program is the Medicaid Waiver program (PDF).

Based on need, some people have the Individual Options Waiver (IO), some have the Level 1 Waiver and some have the Self-Empowered Life Funding Waiver. There are a limited number of waivers that are available so a waiver waiting list is established.

Those who are supported with the IO waiver (see Understanding Waivers above) are assigned a funding range based upon their needs. This funding range is determined by a state designed assessment called the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Profile (ODDP) (PDF).

Once the ODDP is completed and the funding range established, an Individual Service Plan (ISP) is developed with the individual, his or her guardian or other representatives and the service coordinator. This plan, once approved, is then implemented and services are provided. Funds to pay for the services are authorized and paid to providers consistent with the plan and funding range. On rare occasions, individuals may request services that would exceed the funding range. This must go through a special review process called “prior authorization”.

The Level 1 Waiver is also an option for some individuals. This waiver does not include the assessment with the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Profile (ODDP) because it has a funding maximum or cap for most residential services which is fixed at $5,325. Other support, such as emergency services and adaptive equipment can exceed this funding cap in certain circumstances. Funds to pay for the services are authorized and paid to providers consistent with the individual service plan. (see Understanding Waivers above)

The Self Empowered Life Funding (SELF) is administered by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, with support from County Boards of Developmental Disabilities. These waivers have different services and funding that can be explained by the Service and Support Administration Department at 330-797-2925.

When a person has a Medicaid Waiver, he or she is also eligible to receive a Medicaid card and support for other services such as day habilitation and transportation. When one has a Medicaid card, he or she is eligible for Medicaid coverage for certain medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits, hospital services and medications.

Recognizing that Medicaid policy or rules may change, Medicaid questions should be directed to the Service and Support Administration Department at 330-797-2925 for the most up to date information.

5 Things to Know About EVV

Ohioans receiving Homemaker/Personal Care (HPC) and Developmental Disabilities Nursing services will soon be required to use Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) when their services begin and end. Kristy Wathen from the Ohio Department of Medicaid tells you  5 Things to Know about EVV.  Watch this informative video to learn more:

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