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Nursing Homes in Tennessee

Nursing homes are long-term care facilities that provide 24-hour medical supervision and care, rehabilitation and help with personal care activities, including bathing, mobility, dressing, grooming, feeding and meals. These communities are ideal for seniors with chronic conditions or health issues that require constant attention but don’t require hospitalization. Typically, these individuals can’t be cared for at home and have no other options for care.

Tennessee is home to nearly 1,200,000 seniors, many of whom require some type of long-term care. There are currently 313 nursing homes in Tennessee that enroll close to 24,000 individuals, which is around 2% of the senior population in the state. Because nursing homes can be costly, this guide covers financial benefit programs that help seniors pay for this level of care. It also includes a list of resources for those who need help enrolling in public benefits and details on the state standards for nursing homes.

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Cost of Tennessee Nursing Homes

The average cost of nursing homes in Tennessee is $192 per day. This is higher than the national average which is $228 per day.


Can You Use Medicaid to Pay for Nursing Home Care in Tennessee?

Tennessee Medicaid pays for medical care and some long-term care services in a nursing home for qualifying seniors through the state’s Home and Community-Based Services Waivers (HCBS). These waivers are delivered through the CHOICES Long-Term Services and Supports program. It pays for room and board, meals and helps with personal care needs for seniors who require a nursing home level of care. Also referred to as TennCare, Tennessee Medicaid has approximately 1,775,720 enrolled members as of 2023.

Medicaid Eligibility in Tennessee

Seniors applying for TennCare must meet state income and asset limits to be eligible for coverage. This amount is based on the federal poverty level, which changes yearly. In 2023, the income limit for a single applicant is $2,742 per month, with assets totaling no more than $2,000. For married couples with only one spouse applying, the income and asset limit are the same for singles. However, the spouse left at home may have assets totaling up to $148,620. When both spouses apply, the income limit is $5,484, with assets totaling no more than $4,000. 

Annual Income Limits*Asset Limits
Single Applicant$2,742 per month$2,000
Married Applicants (Only One Spouse Applying)$2,742 per month for the applicant$2,000 for the applicant and $148,620 for the nonapplicant
Married Applicants (Both Spouses Applying)$5,484 per month for both spouses$2,000 per spouse and $4,000 total

Aside from income and asset limits, additional qualifications apply:

  • Must be 65 years of age or older
  • Resident of Tennessee
  • Citizen of the United States or qualifying alien
  • Require nursing home level of care

Applying for Medicaid in Tennessee

Seniors may apply for TennCare through the state website or by contacting the program directly at (855) 259-0701. Applications may be downloaded and faxed to (855) 315-0669 or mailed to:
TennCare Connect
P.O. Box 305240
Nashville, TN 37230-5240

Individuals may also apply in person at any local Department of Human Services (DHS) office. 

Information You Will Need:

  • Current photo identification
  • Social security number
  • Proof of citizenship or immigration status
  • Copies of bank statements for the past 90 days
  • Proof of income including retirement awards letters
  • Health and life insurance policy numbers
  • Property information

Additional Medicaid Support & Resources in Tennessee

In Tennessee, seniors can get help when applying for state Medicaid. The following organizations and programs provide answers concerning coverage, eligibility and the application process.

TennCare Medicaid(800) 342-3145TennCare is the state’s official Medicaid program. Seniors can contact the program directly to get information on coverage amounts and eligibility. It’s also possible to get status updates on the application process. is a federal site that details each state's available public benefits programs. The site offers qualification and contact information and provides a short quiz that identifies the programs and services an individual may be eligible for. Counselors are also available to answer questions and concerns about state Medicaid.
Tennessee Justice Center(877) 608-1009The Tennessee Justice Center helps seniors understand the available benefits they qualify for and helps individuals ensure they have adequate coverage to pay for long-term care and health care. The Justice Center also connects seniors with additional programs that address the needs of aging adults in the community.

Can You Use Medicare to Pay for Nursing Home Care in Tennessee?

Medicare provides limited coverage for short-term stays in a skilled nursing facility following a hospital stay, but seniors must meet a number of specific requirements. This benefit is available to beneficiaries who have been hospitalized for at least three days, excluding the date of discharge, so it's most valuable for those who are recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery.

Once seniors meet the hospitalization requirement, Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing per benefit period. The first 20 days are covered in full. Starting on day 21, beneficiaries must pay a daily coinsurance rate. After day 100, seniors are responsible for the entire cost.

What Does Medicare Cover?

Medicare covers a number of specific services, including:

  • Meals
  • A semiprivate room
  • Medications
  • Skilled nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Audiologist care
  • Medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Ambulance transportation

What Isn't Covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not cover long-term custodial care that addresses seniors' day-to-day needs. This includes help with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and using medical equipment.

For more information about Medicare and when it covers Nursing Home Care, read our Guide to Nursing Homes.

Medicare Support & Resources in Tennessee

Medicare has several parts which cover different types of medical care. Knowing how to navigate the application process is important to get the correct individual coverage and to know which parts to apply for. The following agencies can answer questions regarding coverage and provide unbiased advice.

Tennessee State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)(877) 801-0044SHIP provides insurance counseling to seniors who are eligible for coverage throughout Tennessee. The program also provides information to families and caregivers. It helps seniors understand their eligibility, what the plan covers and senior rights when applying. is the official federal website for Medicare coverage. Trained counselors are available to answer the most popular questions. They can help seniors with the application process and understand the other public benefits available for those in nursing homes.
Tennessee Consumer Assistance(800) 342-4029Tennessee Consumer Assistance helps seniors understand the various benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and answers some of the most common coverage questions. The program also will discuss private insurance coverage options for long-term care and whether prescription coverage is needed.

Other Financial Assistance Options for Nursing Home Care in Tennessee

While Medicaid and Medicare are two of the most common programs used to pay for Nursing Home Care, there are other financial assistance options available, depending on your unique situation.

How to ApplyHow It Works
Aid and AttendanceLearn more and apply online at who receive a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, a monthly cash allowance that veterans receive in addition to their standard pension amount. The benefit is intended for veterans in need of long-term care services and may be used towards paying for skilled nursing care.
Reverse MortgagesLearn more about your options and how to apply at you own a home, you may be able to use a reverse mortgage to help pay for nursing care. Reverse mortgages are loans that one can take out against the value of their home, essentially converting some of the home's equity into cash. This type of funding can be especially useful for married couples when only one partner needs nursing care, as the other residents of the home may continue living there. Reverse mortgage loans do need to be repaid with interest, typically within 12 months of receiving the loan.
Long-Term Care (LTC) InsuranceLearn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at who already have long-term care insurance may be covered for skilled nursing care. Most policies cover at least a portion of the cost of nursing home care, but it depends on the specific policy terms. Note that older adults who are already in need of skilled nursing care will not be eligible to sign up for a LTC insurance policy.

Nursing Home Laws and Regulations in Tennessee

Licensing RequirementsThe Tennessee Department of Health Office of Health Care Facilities is responsible for the licensing and operation of all nursing homes, hospitals and health care centers throughout the state. The agency conducts annual inspections to ensure each facility operates according to state standards.
Staffing RequirementsAll nursing homes must employ a certified administrator to oversee operations, a designated attendant who’s awake at all times to provide care, a licensed nurse and a qualified dietician. There are no minimum staff ratios required.
Staff Training RequirementsAdministrators must complete at least 24 hours of in-class training every two years and be recertified. All staff must complete disaster training, including fire safety and emergency preparedness classes.
Admission RestrictionsAll nursing home residents must be able to self-administer their own medications and must not require constant care. They must also not pose a danger to themselves or others and must be able to evacuate the facility on their own within 13 minutes.
Care Planning RequirementsAll residents must have a care plan established in writing at the time of admission. The resident, family members and a nursing home administrator create the plan. It details the level of care required to meet the needs of the individual.
Dietary and Nutritional Services RequirementsNursing homes must provide three hot meals per day that meet the dietary needs of each patient. No more than 14 hours must elapse between meals, and all meals must meet the recommended daily allowance for nutrition.
Specialized Rehabilitative ServicesAll facilities must be able to provide occupational, physical and speech therapy services either on-site or off-site through a qualified provider.
Medication and Pharmaceutical ServicesAll patients are allowed to administer their own medications with the assistance of staff members. All medications must be properly stored with detailed labels, and only nurses and licensed professionals can hand out prescription medications.
Activities RequirementsNursing homes must provide engaging activities for all residents. These activities must be planned in advance and posted on a calendar. Individual participation should be recorded.
Infection Control RequirementsAll long-term care facilities must follow the CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. The community is also expected to be sanitary and clean.
Medicaid CoverageSeniors who expect to use Medicaid to pay for services in a nursing home in Tennessee should check for Medicaid certification. More than half the states’ facilities are Medicaid certified.

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