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Teachers, Sen. Brown blast $12 million cut to Ohio schools in GOP health bill

• May 26, 2017 at 7:16 PM

CLEVELAND — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) today joined teachers, parents and student advocates to stand up against the House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid — which would take millions of dollars away from Ohio schools each year.

According to Cleveland.com:

• Under the House plan to cut Medicaid, Ohio schools could be cut by as much as $12 million each year.

• The Cleveland Metropolitan School District could be cut by $500,000 each year.

“Whatever your opinion of the Affordable Care Act, we should all agree that forcing schools to choose between laying off special education therapists that students depend on and increasing class sizes, or reducing AP and elective classes for other students is wrong,” Brown said. “Instead of forcing Ohio schools to cut services for our kids, let's work together to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone.”

Ohio schools are required by law to provide certain special education services to students with disabilities, such as speech therapy, behavioral health services, or specialized transportation. Schools rely on Medicaid reimbursements to cover the costs of many of those services. The House GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would cut the Medicaid funding by $880 billion – cutting the federal reimbursements Ohio schools depend on by 18 to 25 percent each year.

Despite the cuts, Ohio schools would still be legally required to provide these services to students in need under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. In order to make up the difference, schools could be forced to ration care for students and cities like Cleveland would have to make tough decisions about whether to increase class sizes for everyone, layoff teachers or offer fewer classes for all students.

Brown was joined by Mary Moore, a special education teacher, and Michele Pomerantz from Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

“The Medicaid program is a crucial resource that helps school districts like Cleveland with the costs of providing school-based medical services for eligible low-income students, most often students with disabilities. Without the reimbursement, health-related costs would have to be taken out of operational funding, leading to cuts that impact the classroom. CMSD appreciates the support of Senator Brown and elected leaders around the country who are asking that Congress reconsider and remove the amendment that states Medicaid costs will not be reimbursed to schools,” Pomerantz said.

Following the release of the Congressional Budget Office’s latest estimate on the number of people who will be left without health insurance under the American Health Care Act this week, Brown reiterated his concerns with the House healthcare plan. According to the CBO, the House bill would cause premiums to go up an average of about 20 percent next year and increase the number of uninsured to 23 million by 2026. The CBO also found the bill would cause costs to rise so dramatically for people with pre-existing conditions that they would be unable to purchase individual insurance plans.

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