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Report: GOP Health Plan Could Put School Health Services at Risk

Ohio schools receive more than $51 million in federal Medicaid funding to pay for health services such as speech therapy. (Lynne Featherstone/Flickr)
Ohio schools receive more than $51 million in federal Medicaid funding to pay for health services such as speech therapy. (Lynne Featherstone/Flickr)
April 25, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio – House Republicans this week may release a revised version of their health-care plan, which could jeopardize funding for school health services in Ohio.

According to a report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Ohio schools receive more than $51 million in federal Medicaid funding to pay for speech therapy, mental-health services and wellness screenings for eligible students.

The plan from House Republicans, known as the American Health Care Act, proposes changes that would cap or cut federal Medicaid funding.

President of the Ohio Education Association, Becky Higgins explains schools would be forced to find alternative funding, or even cut services.

"Some of our most vulnerable students get these services, and to discontinue or to take away money that will help them learn and grow and be able to be successful in the school setting and in their futures," she said. "It's going to be very detrimental."

The American Health Care Act would cut federal Medicaid spending by nearly $840 billion over a decade. Supporters have argued it would give states control of health care and restore the free market. Reported revisions focus on allowing states to request waivers on health protections and would not change the underlying bill.

With Ohio's continued opioid crisis, Higgins adds that mental-health services in schools have become especially crucial for those students whose parents struggle with addiction.

"They're dealing with family members at home who are dealing with these issues and then they're carrying that all that burden sometimes about what is happening and the impact it is having on their lives, then to school each day, which absolutely will have an impact on their ability to learn," she explained.

According to the report, nationally, more than two out of three school superintendents report using Medicaid funding to pay for school nurses, counselors and other health professionals.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH