ROCHESTER, N.Y. - "Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester teacher's union, has been watching the American Health Care Act (AHCA) closely. After passing the house, Urbanski worries that the bill's deep cuts to Medicaid could hurt the district, but more importantly he says, it could hurt its most defenseless students.
"As teachers we're very concerned we get reimbursed for Medicaid for more than $2,000,000 a year and next year it's 2.1 and it's for vulnerable children," said Urbanski.
Currently, Urbanski says the Rochester city school district, like many others, relies on Medicaid to reimburse expenses associated with special education. Urbanski says the bill would slash away at an already strained budget.
"We've made all of the cuts possible as far away from the classroom and the kids as possible now if they can't get reimbursement they'll have to cut other things from the budget," said Urbanski.
The bill would essentially leave it up to the state to decide whether or not they'd acknowlede schools as Medicaid providers, which would mean schools may not be reimbursed for providing federally required services to Special Education students.
"It is going to leave a lot of this up to states and there's going to be variation from one state to another at best at worst there's going to be stress on states to be provide the service they've been providing," said Stephen Sulkes, a pediatrician specializing in developmental disabilities at Golisano Children's Hospital.
Dr. Sulkes says he fears this could end up hurting the patients he sees every day.
"It could end up being an unfunded mandate or worse be a stress for schools that want to do right by kids with special needs and can't," said Sulkes.