Court Ruling Protects Model that Brings Health Services to Where Kids Are

The court ruling this week in Franklin Circuit Court signals progress on an issue that put in danger a successful model of providing health services to children at school. A Medicaid managed care company – Kentucky Spirit – had argued that they did not need to reimburse local health departments for services provided at schools to children who have Medicaid. Though Kentucky Spirit may still appeal, the court ruled that they need to adhere to their agreement with the state to reimburse for those services.

This is good news for Kentucky’s kids. Increasingly, health care professionals, schools, and other groups are seeing the value in serving kids where they are. In many ways the health care delivery system is being reinvented as other systems like advertising and media have to be responsive to the needs of the consumers. While in advertising and media that meant a shift to having a significant online presence, many health care providers have identified schools as a place to reach the kids they need to serve.

And educators are recognizing the value as well. Educators locally and nationally have been looking at Finland’s success in educational attainment for ideas. Pasi Sahlberg in his book, Finnish Lessons (for which he recently won the Grawemeyer Award in Education), identifies the delivery of comprehensive health care, dental care and behavioral health care at schools as a core piece of the country’s educational success.

In order to ensure all Kentucky kids get the health care services they need, including preventive services that are cost-effective, we need to embrace different models of effective health care delivery. Allowing services to be delivered in schools – and appropriately reimbursing local health departments for doing that work – is critical. The court decision this week reinforces a creative delivery model that has effectively worked for many years in the Commonwealth. 

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