Schools Can Bill Medicaid for More Student-Health Services, Feds Say

Advocates for school-administered student health services say new guidance issued by a federal agency this week will allow schools to bill Medicaid for more services they provide to students. Those additional reimbursements could help bolster tight budgets for school-health programs, allowing them to provide more services, such as immunizations, mental health care, and screenings for conditions like asthma, advocates say.

It’s a super wonky change that could make a big difference as schools increasingly work to improve student health and well-being. Addressing health issues can clear barriers to learning, such as undiagnosed illnesses, that low-income students frequently face, supporters say.

In the guidance, issued to state Medicaid directors, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, said that the so-called “free care rule” does not apply to schools. Under that rule, schools previously could not seek Medicaid reimbursements for services provided to Medicaid-enrolled students if they provided those services for free to other students. The rule included two exemptions: services provided to students as part of their individual plans created under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and services provided under the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant.

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