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Changes in Medicaid distributions worry school districts

In this May 10, 2017 photo, students leave South Park High School in Buffalo, N.Y. The Medicaid changes being advanced as part of the health overhaul are sounding familiar alarms for school districts still getting their financial footing after the Great Recession. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)

School districts are worried about how proposed changes in Medicaid distributions will affect their funding.

Administrators say any reduction in the estimated $4 billion schools receive in annual Medicaid reimbursements would be hard to absorb. Such cutbacks would come after years of reduced state funding and a weakened tax base.

In Michigan, the Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency covers about 21,000 children with special needs who are on Medicaid. It helps districts recoup about $30 million annually in reimbursements. The agency’s superintendent, Randy Liepa, says that if Medicaid money is reduced, “something’s going to go away.”

The executive director of the National School Boards Association, Thomas Gentzel, says districts would have to look at nonmandated positions and programs if forced to bear more of the costs for services.

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