With all the sweeping changes the Republican bill would impose, little attention has been paid to its potential impact on education. School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country.For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.
At first blush, it may seem counter-intuitive to think the Republicans' regressive health care plan would affect education policy. It's bad enough to realize GOP lawmakers are prepared to take away health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans, but if they're going to target schools, they'll have to do so in a different bill, right?Wrong. The New York Times reports:
Oh. I see. So, in about three hours, GOP lawmakers are likely to pass an unpopular health bill that cuts taxes on the wealthy while undermining schools for special-needs children.At a certain point, congressional Republicans stop looking like American policymakers and start looking like villains from a Dickens novel.The New York Times spoke to Vickie Glenn, a Medicaid coordinator for a special-education program in Illinois, who said, "If I could have 10 minutes with President Trump, I could help him understand what we do, why it's important. If he understood, he would protect it, because this isn't Republicans and Democrats. It's just kids."Who knows, that might make a difference. The last person to speak to Donald Trump often convinces him, just so long as no one else gets his ear.But Vickie Glenn won't get that chance, at least not before House Republicans pass their depraved legislation this afternoon.You might be wondering why we're just hearing about something like this now. Indeed, the Times' report coincides with a Wall Street Journal piece, which we discussed earlier, about the realization that the GOP bill may also undermine private-employer-based insurance in ways that haven't been talked about, either.The explanation for this has everything to do with how House Republicans are choosing to legislate. Ordinarily, concerns such as these would be raised over the course of months, as policymakers hold hearings, receive testimony from subject-matter experts, consult with industry stakeholders, and scrutinize the projected impact of their proposals. They even have the opportunity -- get this -- to improve bills before voting on them as they learn of unintended consequences.But not in this case. Republicans are rushing the bill onto the floor without hearings, without testimony, without debate, without scrutiny, and without so much as a CBO score.And so we're seeing stories like these about hurting special-needs kids the day of the vote. We're likely to learn even more tomorrow and in the coming days -- after the bill passes the House.