Reina P. Cunningham
Schools across the state are in danger of losing their health clinics due to Medicaid non-payment, according to local officials.
“We provide a mini-health department in each school site as kids have access to registered dietitians, environmentalists, epidemiologists, health educators and a wide variety of health care specialists,” said Judy LeFevers, the interim public health director. “A school nurse is the only access to any health care for some school children.”
Officials with the Bell County Health Department are asking representatives to advocate for the department to be removed from Medicaid billing as a managed care organization (MCO). The issues with Medicaid billing is a direct result of the health department being listed as a MCO.
The health department has obtained and verified almost two thousand signatures on a petition asking for help from elected officials. These signatures came from residents of Bell County, age 18 and over, who see the importance of keeping the school clinics.
All students in the Bell County school system have equal access to the school clinics and are provided services regardless of whether or not they have Medicaid. Each student receives the same treatment as if they do have Medicaid.
Medicaid is an approximate 70-30 percent federal and state matching fund grant. The local health department pays the state’s 30 percent match out of local tax money for all Medicaid services provided by local health services. This means the state currently does not have to pay for any of the costs associated with the clinics.
If the health department is forced to close the school clinics and schools have to hire their own nurses, it will have to be covered with local tax money raised by school districts.
The school clinics provide immunizations and preventative health care screenings, as well as dental treatments such as fluoride and varnish.
The school nurses are capable of giving students over the counter medicines when needed and dispensing prescription medicines to students who need to have medication during school hours.
The school clinics are student friendly environments, complete with a “sick bed” for students to rest on while waiting for their parents to pick them up. Posters of popular kid movies and cartoon characters cover the walls at the clinics.
All school nurses are specially trained to be in the school environment. They complete all required continuing education classes.
School clinics have successfully operated in Bell County since 1992. This is when Kentucky launched a three-county pilot program for school clinics.
For information on where you can sign the petition, you can contact LeFevers at 606-337-7046.
You can reach Reina Parker Cunningham at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.