Student Well-Being

New Medicaid Notification Rule Worries Some Special Educators

By Christina A. Samuels — August 29, 2006 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A change in Medicaid reimbursement policy has prompted concern from some special education officials who see it as potentially burdensome, but a federal official says the intent is to protect parental privacy rights, not to create more paperwork.

Medicaid, the nation’s health- insurance program for the poor, reimburses school districts for health services they provide to students with disabilities whose families are enrolled in Medicaid. Those services are primarily speech, physical, and occupational therapy.

The recently released final regulations for the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act say that “each time” a district asks for reimbursement from Medicaid, it should notify parents.

The Department of Education said in releasing the regulation that obtaining parental consent each time the public agency seeks to use a parent’s public insurance to pay for a service is important to protect the privacy rights of the parent and “to ensure that the parent is fully informed of a public agency’s access to his or her public benefits.”

The problem, according to some who work with Medicaid at the state level, is defining “each time.” Medicaid benefits are often accessed multiple times during a school year, they say.

“The literal meaning makes it almost impossible to do, so we have to hope they mean something else,” said Cathy Griffin, the president of the National Alliance for Medicaid in Education and a specialist in third-party reimbursement policy for the Minnesota Department of Education.

But Alexa Posny, the director of the federal Education Department’s office for special education programs, said the new regulation is not intended to create a blizzard of paperwork for states. She gave an example of a child whose individualized education program requires three hourlong sessions a week of occupational therapy. Over the course of an average school year, that would amount to 108 sessions.

“The intent is to let parents know when the insurance is going to be tapped,” she said. “Not that they would have to sign 108 times.”

Annual Release Form?

Ms. Posny said one possible way to meet the goals of the regulation is to have parents of a child with disabilities sign a release form each year when the child’s IEP is developed. States can also elect to have parents sign releases more frequently, she said.

However, some states have blanket release forms that Medicaid beneficiaries sign just once, when they enroll in the public program.

“That would not meet the letter of the law,” Ms. Posny said. States need to establish “a pattern of informed consent,” she said.

After she was told of Ms. Posny’s comments, Ms. Griffin said in an e-mail that if that interpretation is followed, “although this will constitute a change in many states, at least it will be reasonable to administer.”

John Hill, a Medicaid liaison for the Indiana Department of Education, said his state already requires annual consent forms from parents. But the confusion over the regulation’s intent is not surprising, he said. Officials from the Education Department and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Health and Human Services agency that oversees Medicaid, need to sit down and talk with each other, Mr. Hill said.

“Every single day, things get more complicated,” he added.

A version of this article appeared in the August 30, 2006 edition of Education Week as New Medicaid Notification Rule Worries Some Special Educators

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Explainer The School Year Is Getting Hotter. How Does Heat Affect Student Learning and Well-Being?
Climate change will lead to more hot school days, and experts say schools are not prepared.
10 min read
With only open windows and fans to cool the room down, students enter their non-air-conditioned classroom at Campbell High School in Ewa, Hawaii, on Aug. 3, 2015. Most of Hawaii's public schools don't have air conditioning, and record-high temperatures have left teachers and students saying they can't focus because of the heat. Hawaii lawmakers are saying it's time to cool Hawaii's public schools. A proposal being considered by the House Committee of Finance would fund air conditioning for Hawaii Department of Education schools and expedite the process to get cooling systems installed in classrooms.
Only open windows and fans cooled the room as students arrived at Campbell High School in Ewa, Hawaii, in August, 2015. Most of Hawaii's public schools don't have air conditioning, even as research shows that heat can depress student learning.
Marco Garcia/AP
Student Well-Being 3 Ways to Avoid Hurdles for Social-Emotional Learning
Clarifying misconceptions, communicating with parents, and supporting teachers are key.
4 min read
Second grader Tiffinie Tillis works with dean of students Andrea Keck while visiting a sensory room at Quincy Elementary School, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Topeka, Kan. The rooms are designed to relieve stresses faced by students as they return to classrooms amid the ongoing pandemic.
Second grader Tiffinie Tillis works with dean of students Andrea Keck while visiting a sensory room at Quincy Elementary School, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Topeka, Kan. The rooms are designed to relieve stresses faced by students as they return to classrooms amid the ongoing pandemic.
Charlie Riedel/AP
Student Well-Being Tom Brady's TB12 Method Is in Schools. Experts Have Doubts
Physical education experts have raised questions about the approach’s suitability for school-age children.
5 min read
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s new physical education curriculum is catching on in schools. Here, Eighth-grade students, Justine Snyder, bottom, and Macy Peterson use a sphere and foam roller at Pinellas Park Middle School on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, in Pinellas Park, Fla.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has a new physical education curriculum that is catching on in schools, including in Pinellas County, Florida. Eighth-grade students, Justine Snyder, bottom, and Macy Peterson, use a sphere and foam roller—part of the Brady fitness regimen—at Pinellas Park Middle School in Pinellas Park, Fla.
Jefferee Woo/Tampa Bay Times via AP
Student Well-Being Opinion 'Do I Belong or Not?' How to Help Students Navigate Social Relationships
What do you say to students who are struggling to feel like they fit in—and what do you avoid?
Geoffrey L. Cohen
2 min read
Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.
Getty