by Becky Higgins, OEA President
They have books, pencils and a backpack. But will Ohio’s public school students continue to have health care? Maybe or maybe not. It depends on what Congress and the President decide to do about Medicaid.
About 40 percent of Ohio children receive their health coverage from Medicaid. And in some Ohio school districts, that percentage is even higher. In the Dayton City Schools, 71.7 percent of students are on Medicaid. In Youngstown, 80.5 percent of students are enrolled in Medicaid. In Cleveland, it’s 72.7 percent.
Countless studies have shown that children who have access to regular, consistent health care do better in school. Medicaid is critical to ensuring that Ohio’s public school students have quality health care. Children who receive health care through Medicaid are more likely to graduate from high school, finish college, have fewer hospitalizations and enjoy better health as adults. Children who have Medicaid are less likely to drop out of school, engage in risky sexual activity, smoke, or be overweight. And Medicaid gives struggling families the security of knowing that their household budgets.
No child should be without health coverage and access to needed health care. Medicaid makes that possible in Ohio.
Medicaid is a lifeline that keeps a majority of children healthy in many Ohio counties. Medicaid improves academic performance and attendance. It helps ensure that children receive timely and appropriate care, and can help address behavioral issues including the impact of trauma that poses challenges to the proper learning environment.
In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers studied a group of students to determine the long-term effects of healthcare coverage on education. They found that a 10 percent increase in Medicaid eligibility for kids up to the age of 17 led to a smaller high school dropout rate, greater enrollment in college and a higher percentage who earned a four-year college degree.
Medicaid coverage not only improves children’s health and educational attainment it also enhances their earnings potential. People covered by Medicaid during childhood are healthier adults, with fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits and higher incomes as adults, studies shows.
And while many districts struggle with financial challenges, Medicaid contributes more than $80 million to Ohio’s public schools to pay for needed services for students with disabilities. These are services that schools are required to provide and Medicaid offers a reliable funding stream to help pay for them.
The bottom line is that Ohio schools and taxpayers win when children in Ohio have Medicaid. In this time of uncertainty about what Congress and the President might do to change Medicaid, it is important that Ohioans let their representatives in Washington know that Medicaid should be protected.