Medicaid Plan Could Cost California Schools $100M
The Bush administration earlier this month announced plans to end reimbursements to states for transporting disabled students and other school-based Medicaid services, a move that state officials estimate would cost California $103 million annually, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Suzi Rader, director of district and financial services for the California School Boards Association, said, "If the money stops, districts are going to have to find the money somewhere else in their budgets" because federal law requires schools to provide transportation and other services to students with disabilities.
Stan Rosenstein -- director of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program -- said the planned cuts follow findings by federal officials of "a few school districts that abused (Medicaid) claiming." He added, "So rather than just fixing these problems, they're eliminating the funding entirely."
Rosenstein said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has sent letters to federal officials opposing the reductions.
Federal Medicaid officials contend the new regulations would reduce administrative fraud and waste, saving the federal government $3.6 billion over five years.
Mary Kahn, a spokesperson for CMS, said, "In a nutshell, the policy is that taking a child to school is essentially an education service since the child goes to school to receive an education -- not a medical service."
The new regulations would take effect by the 2008-2009 school year unless the Bush administration rescinds the proposal, a move the Bee describes as "unlikely based on the administration's record" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 9/22).
Under the proposed regulations, "states and schools would continue to be required to provide transportation and support services but without reimbursement, a mean trick," a Bee editorial states. "If this federal money goes away, you can be sure that local districts will need to make up the costs in a way that affects all children" (Sacramento Bee, 9/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.