The state education board voted Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Community Health, whose own board is expected to vote on the measure next week.
The state budget currently allocates about $35 million to schools to pay for nurses. Under new “flexibility” contracts with the state, though, schools don’t necessarily spend that money on nurses. But to qualify for the additional Medicaid funds they’ll have to hire nurses with that existing state allocation first.
The new money is basically a federal matching grant for the dollars the state currently gives schools for their nurses. Assuming the federal government approves Georgia’s request, the money will be distributed based on the Medicaid and PeachCare enrollment at each school.
Woods, into his third year in office, said his staff discovered after conversations with other state agencies that the federal money had been on the table. Asked why Georgia’s eligibility for the Medicaid dollars hadn’t been noticed before, he said, because “nobody asked.”
It's unclear whether the state can get all the money. As the education board was voting for the memorandum Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives was voting to replace Obamacare. Their new healthcare bill slashes Medicaid 25 percent over a decade, taking a chunk out of the roughly $30 million Georgia already gets from Medicaid to serve students with disabilities. The $50 million grant would likely shrink along with that funding if the U.S. Senate approves the change.
In other Local Education news:
Governor Deal signed 10 education bills into law, including a sanctuary school bill.