Medicaid Works for America’s School Children

Medicaid Works for America’s School Children

More than 50 million children in the United States are enrolled in K-12 schools — and research has consistently shown that healthy students perform better in school, have better rates of attendance, and ultimately contribute more to the economy after graduation.

For more than 2 million American grade school students, Medicaid provides critical services to ensure they are as healthy and successful as possible. Several Modern Medicaid Alliance members that focus on school-based services provided through Medicaid recently told us that providing health and mental health services to students in the school setting is strengthening communities across the nation.

Alex Mays, Senior National Program Director for the Healthy School Campaign, explained the many ways that the program helps children, “Many people don’t realize the broad role Medicaid plays in supporting the health and academic success of school children — from supporting the needs of children who have an individualized education program (IEP) or individualized family service program (IFSP), to providing important screening, diagnostic, and treatment services to which they might not otherwise have access. Medicaid also helps ensure students have access to specialized equipment to help children with disabilities and supports personnel who provide comprehensive health and mental health services to students.”

Donna Mazyck, Executive Director of the National Association of School Nurses added, “Since 1988, thanks to Medicaid, schools have played a key role in helping to meet the health needs of children with disabilities or those living in poverty. Since children spend most of their days at school, it is imperative that school nurses be able to continue providing student health services in effective and efficient ways.”

“But today, professionals are worried about the impact proposed cuts to Medicaid may have on children who rely on school-based services,” Susan Gorin, Executive Director of the National Association of School Psychologists, noted, “Because of the modern Medicaid program, school district personnel provide critical mental health services that allow all children to learn to their greatest potential and thrive alongside their fellow students, regardless of their health, mental health, or financial situations.”

John Schlitt, President and CEO of the School-Based Health Alliance, which advocates for greater access to school-based health care added, “Changes to the Medicaid program could force children who have – up to this point — received important health services through their schools, to instead have to seek those same services at hospitals or clinics that may not be accessible to them or their families.”

In the school setting, health services help millions of students live healthy and productive lives. Better health leads to stronger school performance and ultimately a brighter future for America.