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Health Care Bill’s Changes to Medicaid Alarm School Advocacy Groups

By Andrew Ujifusa — May 04, 2017 1 min read
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The American Health Care Act, which passed the House Thursday, makes changes to Medicaid spending that has some education organizations up in arms.

As we reported in March on an earlier version of the AHCA, the change to health care law bases state allocations of Medicaid money in part on how many people are in particular populations. Supporters of the change see it as way for states to be more creative with how they use dollars for Medicaid. But groups such as the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, the National School Boards Association, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and the two national teachers’ unions are saying the bill would harm children.

Schools get about $4 billion annually in Medicaid money, making it the third-largest federal program of any kind for K-12. Much of that money is used for special education in schools, and covers a wide variety of services.

In a letter sent Tuesday about the legislation, the groups urged lawmakers to reject the latest AHCA bill because of the potential cuts to health services and noncompliance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, among other issues. Here’s a key passage:

The projected loss of $880 billion in federal Medicaid dollars will compel states to ration health care for children. Under the per-capita caps included in the AHCA, health care will be rationed and schools will be forced to compete with other critical health care providers—hospitals, physicians, and clinics—that serve Medicaid-eligible children. School-based health services are mandated on the states and those mandates do not cease simply because Medicaid funds are capped by the AHCA. As with many other unfunded mandates, capping Medicaid merely shifts the financial burden of providing services to the states.

Several of the same groups sent a very similar letter several weeks ago regarding an earlier version of the AHCA, which you can read here.

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