Trumpcare savages funding for students with disabilities

Yesterday 217 Republicans in the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the protections it offers to millions of Americans. In order to pay for tax cuts for households earning over $250,000/year, these Congressmen (including 9 from Pennsylvania) voted to eliminate $880 billion in federal funding for Medicaid over the next 10 years.

Buried in the discussions swirling around Trumpcare is the impact that decimating federal Medicaid funding will have on students with disabilities and the schools they attend.

Trumpcare ends a nearly 30-year commitment that the federal government has made to provide schools with guaranteed Medicaid reimbursements to help pay for vital healthcare services for eligible students with disabilities, including nursing care, physical therapy, mobility, vision, and audiology services, and many more.

In 2015, federal Medicaid reimbursements to school districts, intermediate units, charter schools, vocational-technical schools, and preschool early intervention programs in PA totaled more than $104 million. Click the PA-School-Based-ACCESS-Medicaid-Reimbursement-Data for school district reimbursement information.

Under Trumpcare, Medicaid funding is capped and federal Medicaid reimbursements for students with disabilities will no longer be guaranteed to our schools. Instead, funding for these services will be shifted to the states, which, under Trumpcare, would no longer have to consider schools eligible Medicaid providers.

Trumpcare creates a system in which children with disabilities will be pitted against elderly nursing home residents in a fight over state Medicaid funding that is inadequate to pay for necessary services.

All PA Congressmen who voted for Trumpcare voted to gut millions of dollars in federal funding from Intermediate Units, which provide special education services to thousands of students with disabilities.

The lawmakers below, however, stand out for casting exceptionally cruel votes that will have a devastating impact on the children and communities they represent.  These lawmakers represent school districts that educate thousands of vulnerable children living in deep poverty. Inadequate state funding for education already has forced many of these school districts to shutter libraries and eliminate programs and services.  Many of these schools lack textbooks and basic academic and counseling supports for students.

The loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in guaranteed Medicaid reimbursements will force these already struggling districts cut even more vital programs and services, eliminating critical opportunities for all students.

Mike Kelly—PA-3 Erie School District $431,555.91
Bill Shuster, PA-9 Altoona Area School District $979,908.55
Chambersburg Area SD $545,317.93
Tom Marino, PA-10 Williamsport Area SD $574,509.03
Lou Barletta, PA-11 Hazleton Area SD $579,656.12
Lloyd Smucker, PA-16 School District Of Lancaster $973,806.96
Reading SD 952,605.85

Before Trumpcare can become law, the Senate will need to pass an amended version of the bill. Then the House and Senate will need to hammer out their differences and both will need to pass the bill again.

Advocates have a very important role to play in ensuring that no healthcare reform will eliminate guaranteed Medicaid reimbursements for students with disabilities.

PA’s Congressmen are coming back to their districts for an 11-day recess. If your lawmaker voted against Trumpcare, please call to thank him. 

If your lawmaker voted for Trumpcare, now is the time to call and visit his office and to encourage others to join you in telling your Congressman that his vote will hurt the children and communities he was elected to represent.  Click HERE to find contact information for your Congressman.