Nebraska Legislative Series: Medicaid in Special Education

Nebraska Legislative Series: Medicaid in Special Education

Nebraska Legislative Series: Medicaid in Special Education

For parents of individuals with intellectual disabilities and intellectual developmental disabilities, it’s important for their children’s future independence and well-being to set a strong and supportive educational foundation early in their educational journey. In a public school setting, this means that they need access to special education programs and services designed to support their everyday care needs while at the same time giving them access to the appropriate specialized attention necessary to facilitate their learning. This can create quite a cost burden on state-funded educational institutions, a burden that under the right circumstances can be offset by your child’s Medicaid coverage. In this blog, Hands of Heartland explores the role of Medicaid in special education services offered at public schools, and how Medicaid benefits all involved.

Special Education in Public Schools

People with IDD will generally require a range of services necessary to create the right environment to support their educational needs. Beyond the individualized lesson plans and personal instruction, children with IDD can expect to access a number of services while in school, including occupational, physical, or speech therapy; special medical services including nurse care and vision assistance; and personal assistance or transportation services. These and other services that are deemed necessary for ensuring a child with a disability receives the proper level of education must be provided by the school, regardless of the family’s ability to pay for such services or their access to medical insurance coverage.

How Medicaid is a Resource, Not a Requirement

While the school must provide the necessary accommodations and services to people with intellectual developmental disabilities, there are several systems in place that help the schools offset these costs in order to maximize the quality of the services provided. For students whose families have access to Medicaid coverage, the school can request that Medicaid benefits be accessed in the course of caring for the student. The family must provide consent in order for the Medicaid insurance to kick in, and parents are not required to provide that consent. Once Medicaid access is provided via consent, however, schools must use the funding in such a way that it does not decrease the student’s Medicaid coverage over their lifetime, nor can the school require the family to pay out-of-pocket costs or co-pays associated with the services provided in conjunction with public education.

Granting consent to access Medicaid benefits, however, is a great way to ensure that your child’s educational needs will be met through the application of the best quality services possible. With funding cuts to programs like The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Medicaid ensures schools can properly fund the special education resources necessary. Schools that are able to leverage Medicaid are associated with maximized graduation rates, improved future earnings, and overall increased contributions to taxes over the lifetimes of students with disabilities.

Hands of Heartland

As a provider of rehabilitative and habilitative services in Omaha, Bellevue and Lincoln Nebraska, Hands of Heartland understands the importance of strong educational foundations for people with intellectual developmental disabilities. Supporting education at this level helps disabled students to better participate in and excel in the supported employment programs we offer once they’ve completed their stint in public school. In order to ensure that the foundation is solid, Hands of Heartland advocates strongly for the use of Medicaid benefits in public special education. For more information on legislation that relates to intellectual disabilities, explore the resources at Disability Rights Nebraska and keep an eye out for future blogs in the Nebraska Legislative Series on the Hands of Heartland website.

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