A therapy group says federal Medicaid reductions could cause the loss of over $4 million in revenue to the Hamilton County Schools.
Officials of Stellar Therapy Services said, "The school districts who will be most impacted are from states that have been pursuing Medicaid reimbursement since it became legal to do so in 1988. School districts in these states have used the reimbursements to pay for healthcare services that they are required to provide to special education students so that the students can participate fully in their education. Services like OT, PT, Speech Therapy, Specialized Transportation Services, and Personal Assistants are all paid for by Medicaid for these special needs students.
"Most Tennessee schools have not been receiving Medicaid reimbursements. The TennCare process has historically been too cumbersome for school districts to navigate. Ironically, this means that most school districts in TN have not counted on these Medicaid funds, and are providing the required healthcare services by using state and local tax funding. Therefore, changes in federal Medicaid funding will not impact most Tennessee public schools.
"However, Hamilton County Schools has been receiving Medicaid reimbursements for some of their healthcare services since 2010 -- HCDE, working with Stellar Therapy Services, pioneered Tennessee's first successful school Medicaid Reimbursement Program. If Federal Medicaid funding is cut, Hamilton County Schools will be impacted in a very negative way. The over 4 million dollars received from TennCare by HCDE would need to be replaced by state and local funding for HCDE to be able to continue to provide all the necessary healthcare services their special needs’ students require.
"On a more positive note, recently the Bureau of TennCare and the Tennessee Department of Education have begun making positive changes intended to assist Tennessee public school districts in working with TennCare. Recognizing the importance of making Medicaid funding available to school districts, a task force has been formed to address the administrative hurdles that have keep Tennessee schools from working with TennCare in the past. We are excited about the changes the task force is implementing and what that will mean for Tennessee schools."