By Meredith Brown, Katie Kramer, & Alison Wilkinson
Medicaid is a program that helps lower income families afford health care. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is a law promising services to children with disabilities in the school systems throughout the United States.
Unfortunately, the government wants to implement block grants on Medicaid for students with special needs, which will prevent them from getting every service they may need. The money would go to each of the students’ needs, but always goes toward the most significant concerns first. These students have multiple needs in some cases and may also have issues with attention and movement, which would also be categorized as more urgent. As such, there may be little to no funding left for speech services. This will prevent special needs students from getting all of the services they need, including speech therapy, which prevents them from reaching their full potential. Having various forms of therapy available to them will lead to students becoming more well rounded.
If these students do not receive these services in the school, they may not receive them at all. Students who are covered by Medicaid are usually from low income families, and blocking the funding for these students’ services would be unethical. The families want the best for their child, but may not have the financial stability to receive services somewhere outside of the school system. It is unjust that these students and families are forced to prioritize certain issues over others when they should be able to help their child in every aspect of their disorder(s).
Special needs programs in the schools already receive static funding through IDEA, which already limits the amount of money they receive. Because of this, schools rely on Medicaid to receive more funding for further services. Districts can be reimbursed for tests or screening that they give, but if Medicaid is providing a block of funding, this will prevent the schools from being reimbursed. If the schools do not get reimbursed for these activities, this may prevent them from providing further services when needed. Schools will have to pay out of pocket for the remaining services that their students need. This means that districts will have to redirect funds from other sources to provide services to those students under IDEA.
We want to oppose the block grant or the per capita that Medicaid puts on IDEA students and their services. As inspiring speech-language pathologists, it is important that we support programs that will provide the most assistance to those we serve. These students deserve the same treatment that other students receive, and they should not have less support because the of lack of money the government is willing to give.