In 2014, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a state Medicaid director letter that gives states the ability to allow local education agencies (LEAs) to expand their school-based Medicaid programs. The change is an exciting opportunity for the education and health sectors to work more closely to address the needs of the whole child and meet children where they are—in school. Across the country, states are taking bold steps to advance state-level policies to expand Medicaid in schools, and we are excited to share the most recent state level efforts in our brief.
Over the past couple of years, our organizations have worked closely to monitor the changes in state policies, supporting agency stakeholders in both Education and Medicaid, as well as consumer health advocates, to work collaboratively to meet the needs of students. It has taken a few years for states to take up CMS’ new guidance and expand services to more Medicaid-enrolled children. In part, this was because of the need for increased coordination between state Education and Medicaid departments, and due to the investigative work required to implement changes on the ground. But, as our brief shows, that tide is turning.
The brief shows the status of state activity to leverage this opportunity including what states are pursuing changes…and how! Louisiana, Massachusetts and North Carolina have received approval from CMS and are in various stages of expanding their school-based Medicaid programs. Other states, like California, Georgia and Michigan are awaiting CMS approval. And a great number are considering other paths forward. Is your state on the list? Read the brief for the update.
For more information about the free care policy reversal and the doors it opens, there are lots of great resources. Of note, our partner, NHeLP, published a brief to help states identify how to make the necessary changes to leverage this opportunity and enable LEAs to expand their school-based Medicaid programs. This tool remains a helpful starting point for states and advocates for understanding their state’s landscape. Other good resources include:
- Free Care Rule 101: What is it and what can advocates do?
- Guide for Stakeholders to Support the Implementation of the Free Care Policy Reversal
- Medicaid is growing up: Time to go to school
- CMS Approves State Plan Amendment for Massachusetts, Creating New Opportunity for School-based Medicaid
There is still much work done to realize Medicaid’s full potential to support school health services but these steps represent real progress. We are committed to working with stakeholders towards our shared goal of increasing access to the health and behavioral health services that students need.
Guest Blogger: Alex Mays is the Senior National Program Director at Healthy Schools Campaign