Education

New Administration to Take on Medicaid Cuts to Special Education?

By Christina A. Samuels — November 06, 2008 1 min read

I think it’s safe to say that financial pressures will prevent President-elect Obama from immediately addressing an issue like increased funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which he supports.

In the short term, however, it is poosible that school districts could see a reversal of some Bush administration cuts to Medicaid spending that they said would affect the services that they provide to students with disabilities.

Congress already gave schools a little bit of breathing room on these cuts, as I wrote back in January:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plans to halt the reimbursements for the costs of transporting eligible children from home to school and back. School districts contend they are entitled to those transportation expenses when Medicaid-eligible services such as speech or physical therapy are provided at school. Medicaid would also stop paying school administrative costs for identifying and enrolling Medicaid-eligible students, and for coordinating the provision of medical services covered under a state’s Medicaid plan. The changes were announced Dec. 21, the Friday before Congress and many school districts went on break before the winter holidays. However, before Congress wrapped up its session for the year, it approved the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007, which includes a provision that freezes the implementation of the new reimbursement rules until June 30. President Bush signed the bill Dec. 29.

School officials have also opposed another Bush administration policy that would change the eligibility in SCHIP, which stands for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. They said they feared the changes could mean that children would lose access to medical care.

According to a Bloomberg.com article, lifting those restrictions on SCHIP could be one of the first health reform issues tackled by Obama, and reversing the Medicaid reimbursement restrictions could come with that. But, an expert in the article said to expect small changes.

``We may get incremental change, but I don't think we're going to get substantial change,'' said Paul Keckley, the Washington-based executive director of the Center for Health Solutions at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, in an interview. ``How much do you want to tweak health care while dealing with bank mortgages?''

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.