The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of School Planning & Management magazine.

School District Leaders Fear Medicaid Refinancing Will Harm Students With Disabilities, Students in Poverty

Alexandria, Va. — Superintendents and other school district leaders are “overwhelmingly concerned” and “deeply worried” about students in special education programs and those living in poverty if Republican proposals to refinance Medicaid are enacted, according to a new survey by AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

In Cutting Medicaid: A Prescription to Hurt the Neediest Kids close to 1,000 school leaders detailed the educational and economic consequences of a proposed 30 percent cut in Medicaid reimbursements. Republicans have expressed a desire to reduce federal Medicaid spending by distributing funding through a block grant or a per-capita cap, which would shift costs to states.

The survey was administered by AASA, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) and the Association of Educational Services Agencies (AESA). Key findings included:

  • Two-thirds of respondents indicated they use Medicaid funds to pay salaries of health care professionals who provide services for students. If a 30 percent cut were to occur, many districts would have to furlough or lay off school personnel who are paid for, in part or mainly through Medicaid reimbursements.
  • The loss of Medicaid funding could result in new local tax levies or requests for higher taxes to subsidize special education programs and health services for students in poverty.
  • Nearly half of respondents said they use Medicaid funds to expand health-related services for students.

“At a time when poverty has such an adverse effect on student success, preserving Medicaid’s current financing structure is critical as we continue our efforts to close the achievement and opportunity gaps that exist throughout our country,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “Investing in our nation’s future begins with investing in our public schools. This survey illustrates the growing concern that our school districts have for the communities they serve, especially the families within our communities that need help the most.”

“Without this service in our schools, many students would go without health care as their parents are unable to find, pay for, or get their child to critical services,” said one respondent. Another stated, “It would drastically cut back on the individualized supports I can provide to disabled children.” 

Close to 1,000 superintendents, assistant school superintendents, school business officials, special education directors and education service agency leaders from 42 states responded to the survey.  

The report urges members of Congress “to weigh how children will be impacted by a Medicaid block grant and to reach out to school leaders for specific insights about the importance of their school-based Medicaid programs for students.”   

For specific questions about the report, contact Sasha Pudelski, AASA assistant director, policy and advocacy, at spudelski@aasa.org.

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