April 20, 2017

New Report Shows Florida Schools, Students Rely on Medicaid

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

American Health Care Act would jeopardize critical services for students

LAKE MARY, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today pointed to findings in a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report showing that Florida schools’ Medicaid spending totals $124.7 million, more than $63 million of which is federal dollars. This funding pays for medical services for Medicaid-eligible students with disabilities, such as mental health and speech therapy, and covers vision and dental screenings provided in schools to Medicaid-eligible children.

“When people think of Medicaid, its role in schools might not immediately come to mind, but the program is critical in making sure that Florida students – particularly those with disabilities – receive the care and services they need,” said Joseph Pennisi, executive director of FPI.

Medicaid provides affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for millions of seniors, people with disabilities and children across the country, including 4 million Floridians. This figure includes more than 2 million children (47 percent of all children) in the Sunshine State.

Congressional House Leadership continues to pursue its failed “repeal and replace” legislation, the American Health Care Act, which would cut federal Medicaid funding by $839 billion over the next decade. The CBPP report shows that in Florida, there would be a projected $13 billion in cuts to Medicaid from 2019 to 2028.

Medicaid funding also helps Florida schools pay the salaries of health care staff, who provide important services to all students. In 2017, 68 percent of school superintendents reported that they used Medicaid funding to keep school nurses, school counselors, speech therapists and other health professionals on staff.

Additionally, CBPP indicates that Medicaid coverage is shown to have a “significant positive impact” on children’s educational attainment and future job earnings.

Medicaid funding cuts also could squeeze Florida’s education budget, and at a time when the state is not fully investing in education.

“Florida falls short when it comes to fully investing in education, and coupled with Medicaid cuts, this could force cash-strapped schools to cut key health personnel — school nurses and counselors — and it would be an uphill battle providing students with the health care services that support learning,” added Pennisi. “Preserving this program should be no-brainer for policymakers.”

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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