Wyoming student health unaffected by federal funding change

Wyoming student health unaffected by federal funding change


School districts in Wyoming aren’t among those that will receive more federal money for school health services after a change in federal policy, according to state Department of Health officials.

A billing policy change at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services isn’t likely to affect funding for Wyoming schools because school health programs in Wyoming don’t bill Medicaid, Wyoming Department of Health public information officer Kim Deti said.

“Several years (ago), maybe 10, there was some discussion of legislation in an effort to add a school Medicaid-type program, and they didn’t go forward,” she said. “One of the reasons was schools were troubled by the reimbursement process.”

There is a formal process the state would have to go through if it wanted to make any changes to the current system, she added.

“If you’re going to change something, you have to go through a pretty specific process,” Deti said. “That would take additional funding.”

And the process of working to bill Medicaid for student services may not be something every school district wants to manage, Laramie County School District 1 head nurse Chris Bartholomew said.

“It’s pretty complicated,” she said.

Other states where schools bill Medicaid have staff members dedicated to the task.

In Wyoming’s current system, school health work is paid for from the general fund and state funding, Bartholomew said.

“It would be lovely to have more nurses,” she said. “But the district has chosen not to bill because we get the reimbursement from the state for special services.”

In LCSD1, that money pays for school nurses. Some schools have full-time nurses, while others share district nurses, she said.

“We move staffing around depending on the kids’ needs in the elementary,” she said. “We had an elementary school a few years ago that had five students with diabetes, so for these past three years, they’ve had a full-time nurse.”

All the secondary schools have their own nurse except Cheyenne’s Triumph High, which shares a nurse with nearby Rossman Elementary, Bartholomew said.

The nurses provide both emergency care and care for chronic student conditions, including asthma and diabetes, she said. They also help with students who have temporary or long-term disabilities.

“Everybody thinks school nursing is Band-Aids, but it’s a lot more than that,” she said. “We cover any kid with medical issues in the schools, and any kind of emergency situations. But we’re (also) in charge of making sure the quality of care is provided to the students so a student can stay in school.”


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