WASHINGTON, D.C. – In case you missed it, Ohio reporters are highlighting the latest victim of the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act: Ohio students.
According to reports from Cleveland.com and the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio schools would lose millions of dollars each year under the House-passed American Health Care Act. The bill puts funding for Ohio’s Medicaid School Program at risk. The program uses federal Medicaid dollars to help schools cover the costs of physical and speech therapy, wheelchairs, other important services for students with disabilities. Services must continue even without these dollars, which could mean schools will be left to make up the cost in other ways like cutting classes.
“The money assists about 61,000 students in 580 Ohio school districts. In 2013, the last year for which final figures are available, the federal government sent Ohio schools an estimated $47.25 million for the program.
“Based on a formula for the healthcare bill that the House of Representatives approved in a narrow vote this afternoon, Ohio schools would collectively lose $8 million to $12 million a year to pay for this Medicaid in Schools program if the bill became law.
“In a statement on the potential cuts, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said, ‘Whatever your opinion of the Affordable Care Act, we should all agree that forcing schools to choose between laying off special education therapists that students depend on and increasing class sizes or reducing AP and elective classes for other students is wrong.
‘Instead of forcing Ohio schools to cut services for our kids, let's work together to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone,’ Brown said.”
From Columbus Dispatch:
“‘It’s literally millions of dollars at stake for school districts,’ said Damon Asbury, legislative director of the Ohio School Boards Association. ‘What’s going to replace it? Because right now, those costs will flow back to schools.’
“The bill passed by the House, if approved by the Senate, would cut federal Medicaid funding by $880 billion between 2017 and 2026 and impose per-capita funding caps on beneficiaries including children, putting the 30-year-old Medicaid School Program at risk.
“‘Special education services are mandated no matter what they cost. Because federal and state dollars only cover a portion, this drastic cut in federal funds would likely necessitate increases in local school levies, shifting the costs to local communities,’ said Brandi Slaughter, chief executive officer for Voices for Ohio’s Children.”