Congresswoman Kristi Noem gets to celebrate her heartless, self-interested backing of Trumpcare with an eleven-day break, which I’m sure she will not use to hold town halls every day to explain what she voted for yesterday and why.
It thus falls to the press to explain the details of the House Republican health care plan, like its deep cuts to services for special education students:
School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.
…The new law would cut Medicaid by $880 billion, or 25 percent, over 10 years and impose a “per-capita cap” on funding for certain groups of people, such as children and the elderly….
…Under a little-noticed provision of the health care bill, states would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers, meaning they would not be entitled to reimbursements.
“School-based Medicaid programs serve as a lifeline to children who can’t access critical health care and health services outside of their school,” said the letter sent this week by the Save Medicaid in Schools Coalition, which consists of more than 50 organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and the School Superintendents Association [Erica L. Green, “A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education,” New York Times, 2017.05.03].
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says providing services to kids in school through Medicaid has long-lasting positive effects:
Medicaid coverage has a significant positive impact not only on children’s health, but also on their educational attainment and job earnings. Children covered by Medicaid during their childhood have better health as adults, with fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits, research shows. Moreover, children covered by Medicaid are more likely to graduate from high school and college and have higher wages and pay more in taxes as adults.
Medicaid’s role in schools goes beyond ensuring that students with disabilities have access to the medical services they need to succeed. Medicaid provides support for health care services delivered in school, which benefit all children — not just those enrolled in Medicaid. In a recent survey of school superintendents, almost half reported that they use the reimbursement their districts receive for services provided to Medicaid-eligible children to expand health-related services and supplies. This includes programs that monitor the health care needs of eligible children with certain conditions such as asthma and diabetes as well as operating clinics within schools to provide dental care to Medicaid-eligible children [Jessica Schubel, “Medicaid Helps Schools Help Children,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2017.04.19].
If Noem is thinking about anything other than doing Trump’s bidding to bolster her chances of winning the Republican gubernatorial primary next June, she probably thinks that she can make up for cutting medical services by giving kids bigger, fattier school lunches.
But voting for this abomination yesterday shows that Noem and her 216 Republican colleagues don’t care about kids or women or the millions (uncounted yet, since Noem raced ahead with this bill before the CBO could analyze the impacts) who would lose insurance under this proposal.