The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 89, legislation that increases the amount of funding school districts can recover through the federal Medicaid in Schools Program.
Under the Medicaid in Schools program, the federal government reimburses school districts for certain special education services, such as speech therapy, counseling and audiology. Currently, about 500 of Ohio’s 612 school districts, or 82 percent, participate in the program, and they are reimbursed about $50 million each year.
House Bill 89, sponsored by Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-Green) makes adjustments to the program that both increase the amount that schools can recover and the speed with which those monies are received.
First, the bill adds to the list of special education services to include delegated nursing and personal care, bringing Ohio in line with more than 30 other states that already offer such programs. In those states, the included categories account for nearly half of all federal reimbursement money.
“HB 89 helps address an unfunded mandate that requires our schools to provide these health services to our students,” DeVitis said. “Drawing down the maximum federal dollars in the Medicaid in School Programs will help our schools manage that financial burden.”
Estimates project that Ohio schools could recover upwards of $200 million each year, more than double what they currently recover. At the same time, no school district would see an increase in the amount of money it pays to match the federal funding.
HB 89 also includes a 2.5-percent grant that would assist the Ohio Department of Education for administering the program to offset any additional staffing that may be required to better meet the needs of implementation.
The bill now awaits consideration in the Ohio Senate.