In Illinois, it’s called Healthy Kids; in Minnesota, it’s Child and Teen Checkups; in Texas, it’s Health Steps; and in Connecticut, it’s Pathways. Every state has an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) program that is part of the state’s Medicaid services for children. (To see what it’s called in your state, you can check this map.)
Medicaid EPSDT funding covers essential services for healthy children, such as screening for medical, dental, vision and hearing problems, as well as treatment needed to correct or address problems discovered during the screening. In addition, EPSDT provides transportation and appointment scheduling services to make the treatments accessible. Many districts also use Medicaid EPSDT funding to provide medical supports to students with disabilities, but the restrictions on how these funds can be used is confusing and complicated even for the most experienced school leaders.
With possible cuts to Medicaid looming on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to understand the importance of Medicaid in making it possible for students to be healthy and ready to learn. To help make sense of the complicated guidelines around EPSDT funding, our partners at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) recently released a set of resources to help school leaders and advocates understand the role that Medicaid plays in supporting students’ health and learning. The new resources include two fact sheets:
- Health Services in Schools: Medicaid and Special Education Services
- Medicaid Services for Children: What’s Covered?
NHeLP also developed two videos mirroring the fact sheets, offering a great overview of what EPSDT means to schools. For a straightforward but detailed description of EPSDT, their brief EPSDT is Essential is a great backgrounder.
HSC recognizes the critical role EPSDT services play in meeting the health needs of the nation’s most vulnerable children. HSC is working to increase access to school health services, including EPSDT services, in schools across the country through its work with the Healthy Students, Promising Futures Learning Collaborative. Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., are currently participating in this effort and working to identify strategies that will help ensure school districts receive the resources they need to meet the health needs of the students they serve, and will be considering ways to keep children safe and healthy if Medicaid is cut.
To learn more about the vital role Medicaid and EPSDT service play in meeting the health needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children, you can also follow a Twitter chat that HSC is participating in along with Health Policy Hub, Center on Budget, Center for American Progress, and AASA from 2-3 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, May 9. You can follow the chat using the hashtag #SchoolsNeedMedicaid.