Special education leader asks Roberts, Moran to defend Medicaid

Medicaid funding is crucial in helping students with disabilities, the incoming president of the Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators said as she urged U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran to protect Medicaid dollars during deliberations on a proposed health care bill.

“Medicaid funding for schools is essential in order to adequately support students with disabilities and provide for their educational needs,” said Amy Haussler, who also is Director of Special Education at the Holton Special Education Cooperative.

“School districts provide services by licensed personnel commensurate to what one could receive in a clinical setting. Accordingly, schools should receive equitable funding for these services. We ask for Senator Roberts and Senator Moran to support students with disabilities and the services they need by advocating to continue Medicaid funding for Kansas schools,” she said.

Earlier this week, the Kansas Association of School Boards, United School Administrators-Kansas and Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators called on Roberts and Moran to defend Medicaid payments to schools as the U.S. Senate writes a health care bill designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.”

Kansas schools currently receive approximately $46 million in Medicaid reimbursements for in-school services such as speech, physical therapy and behavioral therapy mandated by students’ Individualized Educational Programs under federal law. Those funds could be placed at risk if the Senate bill contains provisions of a health care bill passed by the U.S. House in early May.

H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would allow states to no longer consider schools eligible Medicaid providers, thereby eliminating or severely curtailing in-school services for special education students.

The House bill 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, potentially forcing states to ration care for school children and requiring local school districts to finance mandatory services through local funding sources.

KASB has prepared an excel file showing current Medicaid reimbursement amounts for school districts and special education cooperatives, sortable by school district and county. Here is a link to the webpage. Go to Federal Education Issues and click on Medicaid Reimbursement Cut Impact on Kansas Schools.

The U.S. Senate is drafting its own version of the AHCA but no substantive information has been released or hearings scheduled. Furthermore, numerous media reports suggest the Senate may attempt to pass its bill before Congress adjourns for the July 4 recess, heightening educators’ concerns that a poorly-drafted bill will have unintended consequences for Kansas schools and the children they serve.

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