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Donnelly Superintendents Highlight How Senate Health Care Bill Medicaid Cuts Would Harm Indiana Schools
Updated July 13, 2017 6:58 AM
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(WASHINGTON) - U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and superintendents from school systems across Indiana joined together today in highlighting how proposed cuts to Medicaid in the Senate health care bill would impact public schools, students, and families across Indiana.

Schools in Indiana and across the country receive Medicaid funding for certain health-related services they provide, such as individualized education plans, special transportation for children with disabilities, social workers, physical and occupational therapists and medical equipment at schools. Some school districts use Medicaid to help pay for a health professional or a full-time registered nurse at schools across the country, including in Indiana, where they assist with students' complex medical needs and treat students with everything from illnesses to Asthma attacks.

According to analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, if the Senate bill were to pass there would be cuts to Medicaid of 25% by 2026 and 35% by 2036. Under that scenario, Indiana's school districts could lose more than $2.7 million per year by 2026 and more than $3.6 million per year by 2036. In 2016, school districts in Indiana received a total of $12.1 million in Medicaid funds for Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Donnelly said, "Every student should have an opportunity to reach their God-given potential. The Senate health care bill would mean significant cuts to Indiana's public schools and services that Hoosier students and parents count on every day. Because of proposed cuts our schools could be forced to make even more difficult choices, including whether to eliminate teachers, cut services to students with disabilities, or go without a full-time school nurse. I still believe the best solutions come by working together, and I continue to stand ready to work with anybody who wants to improve our health care system."

To see how much each school district in Indiana receives in Medicaid funding, and how they would be impacted by proposed Medicaid cuts in the short- and long-term, visit https://www.donnelly.senate.gov/download/7.10.17.bcra.medicaid.schools

In Indiana, about 140 school districts receive Medicaid reimbursement for IEP services and about 100 receive administrative cost reimbursements. Many school districts are already pinched by tight budgets and could be faced with more tough choices, including whether to cut these services or cut general education programs serving all students. Schools would still be legally required to provide services to students in need to comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, which ensures that students with disabilities are able to access public education. As schools and municipalities work to make up the lost funding, these cuts wouldn't just impact schools: it could impact infrastructure, other education spending, police and fire, and other local priorities and needs.

In letters, expressing their concerns to Donnelly about the Senate health care bill and proposed Medicaid cuts, the Indiana Rural Schools Association, and the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents as well as superintendents from Fairfield Community Schools in Goshen, Spencer-Owen Community Schools, Northwestern School Corporation in Kokomo, Tippecanoe School Corporation, and Triton School Corporation in Bourbon wrote,

"These school-based Medicaid programs serve as a lifeline to children who can't access critical healthcare and services outside of their school...States and local communities will have to compensate for this federal disinvestment in our children's healthcare. If we cannot adequately make up the difference in federal funding, providers will be forced to cut eligibility, services, and benefits for children...Basic medical screenings covered by Medicaid to identify vision, hearing, and mental health problems of students would no longer be possible, making these problems more difficult to address and more expensive to treat. Moving health screenings out of schools also reduces access to early identification and treatment, resulting in more costly treatment down the road. In addition, districts will have to lay off school personnel like nurses, counselors and therapists since they won't be able to supplement their salaries with Medicaid."



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