Magazine article District Administration

Reimbursed for Student Health Care

Magazine article District Administration

Reimbursed for Student Health Care

Article excerpt

Schools can be reimbursed for providing many general health services--a new benefit thanks to a change in federal law. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the shift in December 2014, but many districts miss out on this source of federal funding that can lead to improvements in student health, experts say.

Schools traditionally access Medicaid dollars for special education services, says John Hill, executive director of the National Alliance for Medicaid in Education. Such services may include occupational, physical or speech therapy, and other medical services specified in a student's IEP.

Last December's policy change paves the way for schools to bill Medicaid beyond special ed services, for various health assessments and treatments that school nurses or school-based clinics provide daily to their general education student population. This may include early diagnostic screenings, such as dental and hearing checks, and mental and behavioral health care.

It will likely take time for schools to begin offering more health services, Hill says. "Schools have never been in a position where they typically bill for medical services," he adds. "But in many places, especially in big cities or rural areas, schools are the only place where a kid gets a decent meal and access to health care. More schools are recognizing that."

Varying state policies

Reimbursable services vary by state, Hill says. The biggest variance results from the two types of Medicaid programs in states: fee-for-service and cost-based. …

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