NASHVILLE — Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) today congratulated Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen and TennCare Director Wendy Long for finding a solution that will allow local education agencies to receive reimbursement for school-based health services rendered to Medicaid-eligible children. The solution comes after two meetings of the joint Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Senate Education Committee were held last year on the matter. The meetings focused on how the state’s TennCare program could assist school districts, which have been hard pressed to keep up with escalating health care costs, receive reimbursement for certain specialized health services rendered by the schools.
“I appreciate Commissioner McQueen and Director Long and their staff for working together for the benefit of our local schools,” said Chairman Crowe. “This will save taxpayer money that can be reinvested in educating our students.”
Presently there is neither a federal requirement nor prohibition on funding health services in schools via Medicaid dollars, leaving such decisions to the state government entity responsible for administering the program. In Tennessee this program is TennCare. The administration then, following federal guidelines, determines who is an eligible provider.
When Chairman Crowe discovered that local taxpayers were footing the bill for school-based health services for children enrolled in TennCare, he immediately began working with Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) to bring McQueen and Long together to find a solution. The new action taken as a result of the work done by McQueen and Long will remove barriers that prevent local school-based health services or their providers from being compensated as “in network” for care delivered to Medicaid-eligible children. The services mostly consist of physical and occupational therapy and speech and language therapy for children with disabilities.
“Finding funds to support school-based health services has been a constant battle for local governments,” added Crowe. “There is nearly a two to one federal match through Medicaid to help relieve the tax burden on Tennesseans for these services. This solution results in a win-win for the students, school districts, local governments and the State of Tennessee.”
“I am very grateful to Chairman Crowe for his vision and perseverance in bringing the situation to an acceptable denouement,” added Chairman Gresham.
TennCare has partnered with the Department of Education to teach schools how to get in the TennCare network to be eligible for reimbursement.