Funding for Kansas special needs students in jeopardy as health care bill decision looms

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Republicans continue to work on a health care bill that will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The current version would cut the federal deficit by more than $300 billion over the next decade.

However, the bill cuts several medical programs, including Medicaid.

Kansas schools received just over $46 million through Medicaid reimbursements last year to help pay for federally mandated special education services.

Jennifer Gray’s 10-year old son, Tyson, is going into the fourth grade at Martin Elementary School in Andover.

“He has epilepsy, he has Cerebral Palsy, it’s mild, he has PKU,” said Gray.

Gray says her son utilizes a variety of services.

“He gets physical therapy, he gets occupational therapy and he gets speech therapy and he has adaptive physical education,” said Gray.

USD 385, where Tyson attends school, receives more than $75,000 a year in Medicaid reimbursements.

Altogether, Kansas receives more than $21 million for medical services and more than $46 million altogether.

“If there are caps or limits placed on this funding, it could reduce or ultimately eliminate that source of revenue for school districts,” said Mark Tallman, Associate Executive Director, Kansas Association of School Boards.

Tallman helped put all of this into context.

“The bill that was passed by the legislature this year to increase funding for education would increase state aid for education by $12 million this year and another $12 million the following year, a total of $24 million, we are at risk of losing twice the additional amount in state funding if there are cuts in the federal Medicaid reimbursement,” said Tallman.

It’s funding for services that parents like Gray say there children can’t do without.

“Without those, I don’t know how he would grow, I don’t know how he would grow as a 10-year old boy who suffers from additional needs,” said Gray.

Tallman says if funding was slashed or cut in any way, school districts would be left with trying to raise additional revenue.

This is because special education programs are required by Federal law.

Wichita Public Schools receives the most in the state from Medicaid reimbursements.

They get more than $8 million.

Several other districts in the Kansas viewing area also receive a lot of money from Medicaid.

Hutchinson gets a little more than $600,000.

Garden City gets $461 thousand and Hays gets $364,000.

Again, these reimbursements are in jeopardy if lawmakers pass the current Senate health care bill and if President Donald Trump signs it into law.


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