Proposed Medicaid funding cuts could affect local school systems - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Proposed Medicaid funding cuts could affect local school systems

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Proposed cuts to Medicaid funding cuts could affect school systems in the Tennessee Valley, if the Republican healthcare bill passes. 

Some of those school districts receive Medicaid reimbursements by providing services for special needs and low income students. 

Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Griffith said $100,000 in Medicaid reimbursement money is on the line. It's a small piece of the school system's budget, but could affect every student.

The Marion County school district has experienced its share of budget cuts this year.

Dr. Griffith said they took a hit with Title I funds. Now more could be on the way.

"When you're already working budget cuts from the feds and all the above, we're just trying to survive where we're at right now to be honest with you," Dr. Mark Griffith of Marion County Schools said.

The school system provides services like physical therapy and occupational therapy for about 600 special needs students.

They also offer health screenings for low income students who make up more than half of Marion County's student body. 

The cost of those services is reimbursed by Medicaid funds. That money could now be in jeopardy if the proposed healthcare bill passes.

"Even if that student didn't receive those services, we would have to pull monies from instructional areas or something to make up those costs," Dr. Griffith said.

Dr. Griffith calls it frustrating.

He said if the cuts become reality, they would have to find $100,000 to make up the difference. That could mean staff cuts or asking for money from county commissioners.

"Obviously, if the need is there, we're going to carry out the services," Dr. Griffith said.

Right now, the superintendent is waiting to find out what happens with the bill before talking with administrators about what to do next. Cutting the services isn't an option.

"It's in the best interests of the kids or it wouldn't be there," Dr. Griffith said.

The School Superintendents Association, which is made up of 13,000 educational leaders, has spoken out against the proposed cuts saying the policy change could harm student access to care. 

There isn't a timeline for when these proposed Medicaid cuts might take effect.

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