(Taken from “Special Education Is Hidden Target in Health Bill”, Erica L. Green, New York Times, 5/4/17)
How will the new American Health Care Act, with deep cuts in Medicaid, impact special education students? School districts rely on Medicaid to provide costly services to millions of disabled students across the country, covering costs for equipment to therapy to feeding tubes. It also provides preventive care such as vision and hearing screenings. The new law, passed by the House on May 4, 2017, cuts Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years and imposes a “per capita” cap for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly. In January a survey of almost 1,000 school districts in 42 states had 70% report that they used Medicaid money to pay for health care salaries for those who care for special education students. More than 50 school districts and advocates across the country, the Save Medicaid in Schools Coalition, sent letters to top lawmakers saying that the new bill would force rationing of care for children. Schools would have to compete with hospitals, clinics and other entities for Medicaid funding for children. The new bill no longer considers schools eligible Medicaid providers, so not entitled to reimbursements. There is uniform agreement that these cuts will be devastating to the vulnerable children in special education.