New Medicaid rules could threaten funding for New York City’s school-based health centers
PHOTO: Joe Mahoney/The iNews Network
A change in New York state’s Medicaid reimbursement rules could reduce low-income students’ access to healthcare at hundreds of school-based clinics in New York City — and advocacy organizations are looking at ways to mitigate potential funding shortfalls.
The new rules will create a more complicated reimbursement process, which may cause some providers to shut down or reduce the services they offer, said Lorraine Gonzalez, director of health policy for the Children’s Defense Fund New York.
School health providers, for instance, will have to negotiate individual contracts with multiple “managed care organizations” which distribute Medicaid funds, instead of using a “fee-for-service” model. The new rules also create a new credentialing process for school-based health workers.
There are 145 school-based health centers in New York City covering 345 schools, and they offer everything from physicals and vision checks to help managing chronic conditions. In some cases, they are part of the city’s community schools, which offer students extra social services and other supports.
“There’s been a lot of negotiating at the table — the state has done a great job hearing from all parties,” Gonzalez said. But she warned, “If we don’t mitigate the risks of closures, then you’ll have kids living in poverty with fewer resources for pediatric care.”
This week, CDF released policy recommendations to prevent potential closures or reductions in services that could be created by a more complicated reimbursement process. Medicaid is the largest third-party funding stream for school-based health providers, which tend to be stationed in schools with higher proportions of poor students and students of color, Gonzalez said.
The changes in Medicaid rules won’t take effect until July 2017, but the Children’s Defense Fund issued a series of recommendations this week. You can read them here, or read this CDF report for more details.
Week in review: A raise for some Detroit teachers — no pay for others
PHOTO: John/Creative Commons
The situation at the Detroit charter school where teachers won’t get their summer paychecks is a reminder about the precarious finances that can affect both district and charter schools.
Charters don’t typically have historic debts like those that nearly drove the Detroit Public Schools into bankruptcy last year, but Michigan does not provide charter schools with money to buy or renovate their buildings. Unlike districts, charter schools can’t ask voters to approve tax hikes to pay for improvements. And when charter schools borrow money, that debt isn’t supported by the state or backed up by district taxpayers the way some school district debt is. So when a charter school shuts down and money stops coming from the state, there could be many people — that includes teachers — who simply won’t get paid.
Scroll down for more on that story as well as updates on the just-ratified teachers contract and the rest of the week’s Detroit schools news.
— Erin Einhorn, Chalkbeat Senior Detroit Correspondent
Paying teachers — or not
- Detroit teachers who mailed in ballots this month have narrowly approved a new three-year contract in a vote of 515 to 474. “We certainly deserve more,” the union’s president said in a statement “but the package offers us the opportunity to build our local, move our school district forward and place students first.”
- The new contract, which will now go to a state financial oversight board for approval, would raise teacher salaries by more than 7 percent over the next two years but would not increase wages enough to bring them back to where they were before pay cuts a few years ago.
- Meanwhile, teachers at the shuttered Michigan Technical Academy charter school — which had a lower school in northwest Detroit and a middle school in Redford — were furious to learn that they won’t get money they’re owed for work they did during the school year. The money will instead go to pay off debts. More than 30 teachers are collectively owed more than $150,000.
- The school is the second Detroit-area charter school to run into financial problems affecting teacher pay. Educators at the Taylor International Academy in Southfield say they haven’t been paid since their school shut down abruptly in early June. Taylor and MTA also have this in common: Both schools had their charter authorized by Central Michigan University.
- Meanwhile, across the state, Michigan’s average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, and many districts say they have trouble retaining high quality teachers because of low pay. The finding is included in a six-story series on state teacher pay from Michigan Radio that already has detractors.
- An investor service says the controversial changes Michigan made to its pension system are a “positive” for the state.
- A University of Michigan economist says substitute teachers are paid less in Michigan than other states — part of why the state has a sub shortage.
- A suburban district got 952 applicants for a single teaching job but the district’s superintendent says that doesn’t mean there’s not a teacher shortage.
On the home front
Across the state
- A judge has blocked the state from spending public money on private schools. A Catholic leader explains why he thinks private schools should be entitled to the money.
- MIchigan has dumped its school ranking system in favor of a dashboard.
- An advocate who wants schools to face tougher consequences for poor performance slammed Gov. Rick Snyder’s recent school reform efforts. “Parents are tougher on their kids when they don’t eat their vegetables than Detroit’s turnaround plan is with its hometown failure factories,” he wrote.
- Many of the hurdles that make it difficult to provide enough early education in Detroit also exist in rural Michigan communities.
- A New York writer says Betsy DeVos might be powerful and influential in Michigan but in Washington without her checkbook, she’s “like a mermaid with legs: clumsy, conspicuous, and unable to move forward.”
In other news
money money money
New York City teachers get news they’ve been waiting for: how much money they’ll receive for classroom supplies
New York City teachers will each get $250 this year to spend on classroom supplies — more than they’ve ever gotten through the city’s reimbursement program before.
The city’s 2017-18 budget dramatically ramped up spending for the Teacher’s Choice program, a 30-year-old collaboration between the City Council and the United Federation of Teachers. More than $20 million will go the program this year.
On Thursday, the union texted its members with details about how the city’s budget will translate to their wallets. General education teachers will each get $250, reimbursable against expenses. (Educators who work in other areas get slightly less; teachers tell the union they spend far more.)
Money given to New York City teachers for classroom supplies, measured in dozens of tissue boxes.
The increase means that Teacher’s Choice has more than recovered from the recent recession. In 2007, teachers were getting $220 a year, but that number fell until the union and Council zeroed out the program in 2011 as part of a budget deal aimed at avoiding teacher layoffs. (Some teachers turned to crowdsourcing to buy classroom supplies.) As the city’s financial picture has improved, and as the union lobbied heavily for the program, the amount inched upwards annually.
“With this increase in funding for Teacher’s Choice, the City Council has sent us a clear message that they believe in our educators and support the work they are doing,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “At a time where we see public education under attack on a national level, Council members came through for our teachers and our students.”