Elder Law News

12 May

Article details health bill’s impact on disabled kids

By elderlaw

The U.S. House-passed American Health Care Act would severely cut Medicaid payments for special education services, the New York Times reported in a recent article.

healthThe legislation proposes $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid, or 25 percent, over 10 years. To accomplish that reduction, it imposes a “per-capita cap” on Medicaid funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly, the newspaper reports.
That’s a dramatic change, the paper said. And one organization is warning that the result would “ration health care for children.”
More from the New York Times article:

 

A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education

By ERICA L. GREEN

WASHINGTON — While House Republicans lined up votes (May 3) for a (May 4) showdown over their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Vickie Glenn sat in her Murphysboro, Ill., office and prayed for it to fail.

Ms. Glenn, a Medicaid coordinator for Tri-County Special Education, an Illinois cooperative that helps more than 20 school districts deliver special education services to students, was worried about an issue that few in Congress were discussing: how the new American Health Care Act, with its deep cuts to Medicaid, would affect her 2,500 students.

With all the sweeping changes the Republican bill would impose, little attention has been paid to its potential impact on education. School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

 “If I could have 10 minutes with President Trump, I could help him understand what we do, why it’s important,” Ms. Glenn said. “If he understood, he would protect it, because this isn’t Republicans and Democrats. It’s just kids.”

The new law would cut Medicaid by $880 billion, or 25 percent, over 10 years and impose a “per-capita cap” on funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly — a dramatic change that would convert Medicaid from an entitlement designed to cover any costs incurred to a more limited program.

AASA, an advocacy association for school superintendents, estimates that school districts receive about $4 billion in Medicaid reimbursements annually. In a January survey of nearly 1,000 district officials in 42 states, nearly 70 percent of districts reported that they used the money to pay the salaries of health care professionals who serve special education students.

Republicans say federal health programs must be restructured to curb their soaring costs — the biggest driver of projected budget deficits — and force a smarter allocation of limited resources.

But in a letter sent to top lawmakers this week, a coalition of school educators and advocacy organizations said such efforts would force states to “ration health care for children.”

Read the full New York Times article at this link.

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