House passes AHCA that cuts Medicaid to schools

The U.S. House of Representatives, with the support of the Kansas House delegation, passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would cut Medicaid funding that schools use to serve special education and other students. The vote on HR 1628, which is the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, was 217-213; 216 votes were needed for passage. Kansas Representatives Roger Marshall, Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder and Ron Estes all voted for HR 1628.

One section of the AHCA cuts $880 billion in Medicaid funding to schools over the next 10 years, a 25 percent reduction in the reimbursement schools receive for in-school services such as speech, physical therapy and behavioral therapy.

Kansas schools receive roughly $46 million in Medicaid reimbursements (xlsx).

In a letter to Congressional leaders, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) stated, “Medicaid is a cost-effective and efficient provider of essential health care services for children. School-based Medicaid programs serve as a lifeline to children who can’t access critical health care and health services outside of their school.”

H.R. 1628 also imposes a per-capita cap on certain populations, such as children, that are eligible for Medicaid services. Medicaid is currently an “entitlement” program that is designed to cover most costs for eligible people. Placing a per-capita cap on Medicaid would limit its scope of service.

Reduction of Medicaid reimbursements to schools will shift the bulk of the burden to states to provide services as costs generally increase, which would likely result in tax increases, reduction in student services, or both.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to face significant opposition.

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