Letter: Don't gut special educ. to build Trump's wall
While the health care plan passed by the U.S. House has been subjected to a brutal storm of criticism, I'd like to increase awareness of changes that would have severe impact on our towns and our taxes right here in Berkshire County. While I am a member of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District School Committee, I am writing as an unenrolled resident and taxpayer of Sheffield.
I want to focus on the reduction of Medicaid spending. President Trump and House Republicans have stated the 25 percent reduction in Medicaid spending would provide the funds needed to "build the wall." This amounts to building the wall on the backs of special needs kids.
Special education programs receive about $4 billion from Medicaid every year. A lot of that money goes to support Medicaid-eligible services and support that is provided through schools that by law must provide certain services to special needs students. This new legislation would allow Medicaid-eligible services reimbursement to be stripped from public schools. What that would mean to us here in Berkshire County is schools would continue to be required to provide such services and all the costs would be covered by additional local taxes.
For example, our excellent small district would have to increase the annual budget to cover the loss of Medicaid reimbursement or offset the loss of this revenue though elimination of non-required classes. In FY2016, SBRSD was reimbursed $200,000 for Medicare eligible services. With the growing number of special needs students, this number is expected to continue to rise.
What we can do is become politically active and do everything we can to make sure this bill is not passed by the Senate. Call your local, state and national elected officials and tell them to fight against building the wall on the backs of special needs kids. Write, email and use social media to do the same thing. If you prefer to holler, find a street corner, hold a sign up and holler!
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