How can schools tap Medicaid reimbursement benefits?

Serving students with disabilities in public schools is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but finding the funding to accommodate such students comes with difficulties. Budget shortfalls in school systems often hurt the students who need services the most through reduction in staff and resources. Some school systems, however, are tapping into a relatively unused resource to bring in the revenue needed to best serve students with disabilities: federal Medicaid funds.

The Henrico County School District in Virginia started requesting Medicaid reimbursement for services during the 2011 – 2012 fiscal year for things like behavior counseling, personal care, nursing services and even special education bus drivers. The first year that Henrico County asked Medicaid to reimburse for services, the district received $97,779 back from the federal government. This year, the district expects to receive $1.1 million in Medicaid reimbursements for student services. The funding has gone to hire three psychologists, three social workers, five part-time truancy officers and five part-time deans of students.

As with any federal program, the Medicaid reimbursement process can be tedious and confusing. Henrico County decided to outsource the process to a third party, SEAS Reimbursement, and to make use of its convenient student performance platform to streamline the record keeping, billing and reimbursement process.

“Medicaid set up this program with schools, to reimburse schools for these services,” said Nancy Delcki of SEAS, a former school administrator. “A lot of it requires heavy paperwork though and schools are often not sure how to keep track of the services so that they are properly reimbursed. The paperwork alone is a deterrent for some schools because it is basically a full time job.”

Another layer of complication is that the Medicaid reimbursement process is different from state to state. Companies like SEAS specialize in knowing exactly what documentation is needed for particular states to file for Medicaid reimbursements. In the case of Henrico County, an integrated iPad application from SEAS helps providers and administrators keep track of all the documentation throughout the process.

Though the process may be tedious, seeking out these Medicaid reimbursements can greatly enhance the services that schools are able to provide to students with disabilities. Ensuring that all students receive quality access to educational resources, including the personnel to make that happen, is a basic right of our public schools. The Medicaid reimbursement program can assist to that end – but more schools need to step up and take advantage of the help that is available.

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