Major AASA Medicaid Victory Leads to More Funding for School Districts

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It is with great pleasure that I announce that AASA assisted in securing a major victory in the fight to improve Medicaid reimbursement for school districts. AASA, along with our hard-working colleagues at NAME, just learned that the U.S. Dept of Education will be formally releasing IDEA Part B final regulations tomorrow that change the parental consent requirements for Medicaid. These final regulations, which take effect on March 18, 2013, will make it considerably easier for school districts to access public benefits for Medicaid-eligible students. Moreover, as the number of Medicaid eligible students grows in states that are adopting the State Medicaid Expansion option from Obamacare, this could lead to a significant new source of funding for districts. To all the superintendents who helped AASA make this happen over the past seven years--Thank you!

The 2006 IDEA regulations related to Medicaid required districts to receive written consent from parents each time or at least every year (depending on the interpretation) a district bills for Medicaid reimbursable services for an individual student. The new regulations only require that written parental consent be given one time during the course of the student’s education and that the district notify the parents each subsequent year of their decision to continue to bill Medicaid for these services. This will greatly reduce the administrative burden on district personnel who spend countless time and resources tracking down parents to consent to Medicaid reimbursement. It will also lead to much larger Medicaid reimbursement rates for districts allowing superintendents to allocate this funding for salaries of in-house or contracted specialized school support staff, equipment costs, or other fungible expenditures.

The new regulations on Medicaid reimbursement should strongly incentivize superintendents to lobby their state leaders to expand Medicaid eligibility because expanding eligibility will enable districts to access millions of additional dollars to support mandated services in their schools. Public school districts have much at stake if their state decides against expanding Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. Since federal mandates require schools to provide services to children regardless of the availability of funds, an increase in the number of children who become eligible for Medicaid will increase the amount of financial support to the schools for providing those services. While each state is unique and the policy and financial implications must be considered on a state-by-state basis, the benefit to education is indisputable. An increase in the number of children who become eligible for Medicaid will increase the amount of federal reimbursement available to support mandated services provided in the schools without increasing state costs. States that do not expand eligiblity will miss an unprecedented opportunity to support their schools and to help lessen their ongoing financial stress.

The operative word here is"get your state to buy into the program." Maine has had the program since 1992 and it was pulled 'reinterpreted' by the Maine DHHS in 2010-11, resulting in a loss of $35 million dollars to schools. To date, DHHS has not acted on behalf of schools to correct this problem. Medicare provided essential reimbursements to schools for services rightly eligible under Medicaid. This is a stream of funds needed by schools in this climate of declining revenues for schools and provides eligible students with the necessary services which help them succeed in K-12 schools.
Posted by: Jerry T. White at 2/20/2013 8:56 PM

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