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Kentucky to expand school-based healthcare services for children

Kentucky to expand school-based healthcare services for children


Gov. Matt Bevin announced June 3 that the Cabinet for
Health and Family Services (CHFS), in partnership with the Kentucky
Department of Education (KDE), will seek an amendment to Kentucky’s
Medicaid state plan to provide greater healthcare access to students in schools
across the Commonwealth by allowing for the payment of qualifying physical
and mental health services.


The proposed amendment allows Kentucky school districts to utilize federal
Medicaid funding to provide students enrolled in Medicaid with increased access
to school-based healthcare, including mental health services, health screenings,
and diabetes and asthma management. Currently, only students enrolled in
Medicaid with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) qualify to receive these


“The importance of school-based health services is proven, and I am grateful
that our state agencies are partnering to implement this amendment, which will
benefit thousands of students across Kentucky,” said Bevin. “This is an example
of state government working across cabinets to find solutions to address the
growing need for increased access to mental health services, preventive care
and other health services in our schools.”


In a letter sent statewide to all 172 district superintendents, KDE Commissioner
Wayne Lewis and Kentucky Medicaid Commissioner Carol Steckel underscored
the significance of providing high-quality health services to Kentucky children,
noting that these services often “address challenges before issues get more


serious, require more costly interventions, and potentially put other students at


“Given Medicaid’s historic role in supporting children’s health and educational
outcomes, ensuring that all eligible students are enrolled in Medicaid and have
access to the school-based health services they need are key strategies to
supporting a healthy learning environment and academic success,” Lewis said.
“Many Kentucky school districts have significant financial challenges. The ability
to further leverage federal resources to meet students’ health needs permits
districts to target teaching and learning with state and local resources.”


According to data submitted in Kentucky’s proposal, the state has 1,688
students per school psychologist, when the national standard recommends 500
to 700. By allowing schools to access funding through the Medicaid program to
place eligible health providers in schools and provide services covered under
Medicaid, school systems will be able to address disparities in care.


“As a former classroom teacher, I know how valuable it is to have health
services and behavioral health services for kids right there at the school,” said
CHFS Deputy Secretary Kristi Putnam. “For many years, schools have struggled
to find funding for provision of health services in schools, even though
education leaders realize the importance of having these providers on site. More
than 2-in-5 students are covered under Medicaid, so this initiative will have a
tremendous impact within our schools.”


Children with Medicaid coverage often do not receive needed health services
due to barriers such as lack of transportation, parent work schedules or finding
a nearby provider who accepts Medicaid. Increased school-based health services
and telehealth are opportunities to address such barriers by providing a variety
of health services beyond first aid treatment.


“This is an opportunity to reduce barriers for families so that children can be
connected to critical health services, which also can raise awareness with the


adults in the home about the importance of seeking care when needed,” added


Acute care services also can be provided, such as treatment for asthma. Some
school systems already directly employ health professionals to provide these
services. Other schools, often in partnership with community organizations,
community health centers, hospitals or local health departments, have
established school-based health centers to provide health care services to


The Medicaid plan amendment was submitted to the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services on April 28. If approved, the goal is to begin this expansion of
services and eligible students during the 2019-2020 school year for those school
districts that choose to participate. CHFS and KDE are working in partnership to
communicate program requirements to superintendents, and set up operational
procedures to support improving health care access for students.


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