As we reach the end of summer, schools across the nation are starting to welcome back students for a new academic year.
Schools offer a unique and critical setting to help enroll children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and ensure access to the health care services they need. Medicaid and CHIP provide essential health care coverage to more than 42 million children across the country, and Medicaid is valuable in ensuring school-based services are available to children who need them.
Children with Medicaid health coverage do better in school; miss fewer school days due to injury; are more likely to finish school and attend higher education; have fewer emergency room visits as adults; and earn more as adults.
Medicaid’s School-Based Services
- Preventive care;
- Oral health care;
- Behavioral health care;
- Routine health screenings; and,
- Acute care services, such as treatment for asthma and diabetes.
School-based resources are especially critical for students with disabilities, who often require specific medical and supportive services to further their education. Medicaid plays a vital role for these students, covering what they might need to be successful in school, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and other assistive technology.
Medicaid also ensures that students with more complex needs receive high-quality care, covering services provided through an individualized education plan (IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IEPs often include services that Medicaid covers for children, including physical or speech therapy.
Through school-based services, Medicaid helps increase health equity and ensures vulnerable students receive the care they need. Further, Medicaid helps schools strengthen their health-related services, supplies, and programs to ensure all students, not just those enrolled in Medicaid, receive strong and sustainable care.
Expanding Vaccination Access for Students
Ensuring that immunizations are up to date is a critical part of back-to-school preparations for parents. Medicaid ensures that millions of low-income children have access to these lifesaving vaccines that prevent and fight disease.
Through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit, children under 21 enrolled in Medicaid receive all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Vaccines for Children Program also provides vaccines at no cost to children under 18 enrolled in Medicaid who are uninsured, underinsured, or who are American Indian or Alaska Native.
Getting the annual flu vaccine can reduce the risk of an influenza-related ICU admission by 74% for children. Medicaid coverage of routine immunizations protects millions of children – especially those in the most vulnerable communities – from serious illnesses.
Maintaining a Strong Medicaid Program for Children in Schools
Now that the COVID-19 emergency is over, state governments have begun restarting the yearly process of making sure people on Medicaid or CHIP are still eligible for these programs. The process is called “Medicaid redetermination.” Adults and children who have coverage through Medicaid must take action to keep their coverage or move to another type of health insurance.
More than 3.7 million Medicaid enrollees have already been disenrolled from the program. While data is limited, children accounted for roughly one-third of Medicaid disenrollments in the 7 states reporting age breakdowns. By some estimates, redeterminations could ultimately result in up to 5.3 million children losing access to their Medicaid coverage, putting their health, development, and success in school at risk.
But there is still time to act. As children begin returning to school, Medicaid programs and schools across the country can collaborate and serve as important resources for children and their families to prevent any disruption to coverage. Even if the adults in a family are no longer eligible for Medicaid, their children may still qualify; so, it’s important for families to respond to state outreach and requests for information.
For more information about the vital role of Medicaid school-based services, check out our recent Medicaid Spotlight feature about how the School-Based Health Alliance is helping health professionals teach children and parents about the importance of protecting children’s health.