June 26, 2017 – Superintendent of Shaker Heights Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., joins educational leaders from across the nation in calling on members of Congress, including Sen. Rob Portman, to protect our nation’s health care by voting against proposed legislation that results in loss of coverage for millions of Americans and includes a federal disinvestment of Medicaid.
“Health care coverage should be affordable, attainable and adequate to meet the needs of our young people and their families. Neither the House-proposed American Health Care Act nor the Senate-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act achieve this,” says Hutchings. “Both bills, in their current forms, propose sweeping cuts to Medicaid which endanger coverage for the country’s most vulnerable young people and the quality of services school districts can provide to Medicaid-eligible students.”
Currently, Medicaid provides comprehensive and affordable health care coverage to 74.5 million Americans who would otherwise be uninsured, especially the poor, the elderly and those with disabilities. The federal program also provides roughly $4 billion in reimbursements annually to fund special education and health care services to school districts nationwide. Without it, school districts may be forced to repurpose funds or identify additional funding—through levies or increased property taxes—to cover costs for these programs.
“Medicaid is critical to families and communities, including Shaker Heights,” says Hutchings. “If federal funding is drastically reduced, other District programs and initiatives may suffer as we search for ways to fund and service the needs of our Medicaid-eligible students.”
The Save Medicaid in the Schools Coalition, a group of nearly 60 education organizations—including the AASA, the School Superintendents Association—told Congressional leaders this spring that the House bill would result in a reduction of health services offered by schools to Medicaid-eligible students, cuts to general education, higher local taxes, job loss for staff performing Medicaid-eligible services, fewer critical supplies for children with disabilities, fewer mental health services for students, and potential noncompliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
“The projected loss of $880 billion in federal Medicaid dollars under the House bill and the Senate’s proposal to reduce Medicaid to a mere shell of itself is unconscionable,” Hutchings says. “We must use our collective voices to work together and ensure our country meets the health care and educational needs of all children and families.”