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New Report Show’s Florida Schools, Students Rely on Medicaid

American Health Care Act would jeopardize critical services for students

LAKE MARY, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today pointed to findings in a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report showing that Florida schools’ Medicaid spending totals $124.7 million, more than $63 million of which is federal dollars. This funding pays for medical services for Medicaid-eligible students with disabilities, such as mental health and speech therapy, and covers vision and dental screenings provided in schools to Medicaid-eligible children.

“When people think of Medicaid, its role in schools might not immediately come to mind, but the program is critical in making sure that Florida students – particularly those with disabilities – receive the care and services they need,” said Joseph Pennisi, executive director of FPI.

Medicaid provides affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children across the country, including 4 million Floridians. This figure includes more than 2 million children (47 percent of all children) in the Sunshine State.

Congressional House Leadership continues to pursue its failed “repeal and replace” legislation, the American Health Care Act, which would cut federal Medicaid funding by $839 billion over the next decade. The CBPP report shows that in Florida, there would be a projected $13 billion in cuts to Medicaid from 2019 to 2028.

Medicaid funding also helps Florida schools pay the salaries of health care staff, who provide important services to all students. In 2017, 68 percent of school superintendents reported that they used Medicaid funding to keep school nurses, school counselors, speech therapists and other health professionals on staff.

Additionally, CBPP indicates that Medicaid coverage is shown to have a “significant positive impact” on children’s educational attainment and future job earnings.

Medicaid funding cuts also could squeeze Florida’s education budget, and at a time when the state is not fully investing in education.

“Florida falls short when it comes to fully investing in education, and coupled with Medicaid cuts, this could force cash-strapped schools to cut key health personnel — school nurses and counselors — and it would be an uphill battle providing students with the health care services that support learning,” added Pennisi. “Preserving this program should be no-brainer for policymakers.”

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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