WASHINGTON — The health care bill repealing much of the Affordable Care Act passed by the U.S. House could cost Ohio millions in Medicaid funding. Local school districts are unsure how their districts will be affected.
The Medicaid School Program helps schools pay for special education services and provide wellness care to children in poverty.
The bill approved last week proposes $880 billion in Medicaid funding cuts. If it becomes law, Ohio schools could lose $8 million to $12 million a year in funding.
Schools still are required to provide services such as speech therapy under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, says the cuts could force Ohio schools to fire special education therapists or increase class sizes.
Brown says lawmakers should “work together to lower costs and make health care work better for everyone.”
Superintendents in Shelby County were contacted via email on what the cuts could mean to their school district.
“There is no way for us to know how many of our students receiving medicaid actually get the school district reimbursed,” said Sidney City Schools Superintendent John Scheu. “We have not been given any hint at what ramifications for the school district will occur should the Affordable Care Act be dissolved.
“I do have a concern with families in our school district who have seen their premiums and deductibles sky rocket. I know of one particular young adult in their 20’s who was told he had to take a health care plan which included benefits he was not interested in or needed – such as maternity care,” said Scheu. “He was told he might need this in the future if he were to get married. His premiums doubled over his former health care plan, and deductible was significantly higher. I sincerely hope politics can be put aside and a health care plan put in place that will fix a broken system.”
Upper Valley Career Center, Botkins and Russia Schools superintendents said their districts do not participate in the Medicaid School Program. Versailles Exempted School District Superintendent Aaron Moran said he doesn’t know how it may affect their district.