Free Care Rule Update: More Funding for School Health Ahead?

  • July 8, 2014

Free Care Rule Update: More Funding for School Health Ahead?

Last February, we asked you to sign on to a statement of support requesting clarification of the free care rule, and the response was overwhelming. We truly appreciate you lending your voice to this important issue.

We are continuing to push this issue and engage with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure the free care rule is clarified. Thanks in part to your support, we believe we are making progress and have been told that guidance on the free care rule will be issued in the near future.

Just last week we received a letter from the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (.pdf), Sylvia Burwell, in a response to a letter we had sent in April urging CMS to acknowledge the key role schools can play in meeting the goals of the Affordable Care Act by clarifying the free care rule. Healthy Schools Campaign’s letter was co-signed by some our key partners including Trust for America’s Health, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and National Association of School Nurses.

The letter from Secretary Burwell demonstrates that even with the transition in leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), clarifying the free care rule remains a priority within the Department. In her letter Secretary Burwell said:

“I agree that Medicaid services delivered in schools play a critical role in improving the health of our nation’s children…CMS is currently reviewing policies on the role of “free care” in determining the circumstances in which Medicaid reimbursement is available. I agree that clarifying this definition would help ensure a consistent approach to service delivery and reimbursement in our nation’s schools, and CMS is working toward that goal.”

We are pleased to see this continued support within HHS for this issue and look forward to continuing to engage with Secretary Burwell and her staff to ensure the free care rule is reviewed and clarified.

Clarifying the free care rule and allowing schools to bill Medicaid for the delivery of health services would ensure schools have additional resources to address the physical and mental health needs of students and help realize the vision of the Affordable Care Act.

Once again, thank you for lending your voices to this effort and we look forward to keeping you updated.