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New Options Waiver Program (NOW)


The New Options Waiver (NOW) and the Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program (COMP) offer home-and community-based services for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) or developmental disabilities (DD). The Department of Community Health (DCH) administers Medicaid which delegates the day-to-day operation of the NOW/COMP Programs to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Division of Developmental Disabilities. DCH maintains administration over the NOW/COMP Program and oversees DBHDD’s performance of operational functions. The DBHDD Central Office performs statewide waiver operational and daily administrative functions. The six DBHDD regional offices perform NOW/COMP waiver functions at the regional level, including intake and evaluation, preauthorization of NOW/COMP waiver services, utilization management, crisis resolution, quality management, planning list management and intervention in cases of service delivery problems or concerns. Individuals access the NOW/COMP Program through the DBHDD regional offices or through contacting the single entry point for all DBHDD services via a toll-free number or the internet. A diagnosis of developmental disability includes intellectual disability or other closely related conditions, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism or neurological problems. These disabilities require a level of care provided in an intermediate-care facility (ICF) for people diagnosed with I/DD. There are more than 12,000 people with developmental disabilities who are served by the NOW/COMP programs in Georgia.

Purpose of the NOW Program

The NOW waiver program offers services and supports to individuals to enable them to remain living in their own or family home and participate or live independently in the community.
Goals for participants in the NOW program, which serves individuals with less intensive needs than those in the COMP program, include:

  • Avoiding the need for more intensive services. Increasing independence and quality of life of individuals with I/DD.
  • Increasing the flexibility of service planning and delivery to meet exact individual needs.
  • Providing the opportunity for all participants to elect to direct their services to the extent that they choose.
  • Ensuring the health, safety and welfare of NOW participants.

Eligibility for Both Programs

Individuals who meet the level of care that would be required in an intermediate-care facility for people with intellectual disabilities (ICF-ID) may be eligible for home- and community-based services as an alternative through Georgia’s Medicaid NOW and COMP waiver programs.
To qualify for these waiver programs and be offered the choice of community-based services instead of institutional care, the individual must first meet the criteria for Medicaid payment in an institution and certain other criteria.
Specific qualifications:

  • Are categorically eligible Medicaid recipients.
  • Have a diagnosis of an intellectual disability and/or a closely related condition.
  • Are currently receiving the level of care provided in an ICF-ID that is reimbursable under the State Plan, and for whom home- and community-based services are determined to be an appropriate alternative.
  • Are likely to require the level of care provided in an ICF-ID that would be reimbursable under the State Plan in the absence of home- and community-based services that are determined to be an appropriate alternative.