Increasing the dialogue among stakeholders in New Jersey’s special education system

In early May, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve deep cuts to Medicaid when they passed the American Health Care Act. The measure is intended to ‘repeal and replace’ The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

The new bill, dubbed “Trumpcare” slashes $880 billion from the Medicaid program – 25% of the program – over the next 10 years and would convert Medicaid from an entitlement designed to cover any costs incurred, to a more limited program. Roughly $4-$5 billion of that money goes to schools to pay for special education and special equipment.

Medicaid is a tax-funded single payer federal healthcare program created for those who are poor and/or have disabilities. Since 1988, it has been used to help public schools pay for certain special education related services, including speech therapy, nursing aides, wheelchairs and other services. It also reimburses schools for health and wellness programs for children in poverty.

School-based Medicaid programs provide services to children who otherwise can’t access critical health care and health services outside of their school. Advocates believe that this drastic cut in federal funds would likely be shifting the costs to local communities.

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