HomePartner Updates5 Basics of Medicaid Reimbursement for Student Transportation

5 Basics of Medicaid Reimbursement for Student Transportation

In a time where school districts are asked to do even more with even less, every dollar counts. The recent influx of federal funding has undoubtedly helped many districts, but now is the time to look ahead to the options that remain when those programs end.

One of these, Medicaid reimbursement funding, is an underused and sometimes misunderstood resource. To help you understand, apply for, and access these funds, we’ve answered five key questions.

1. Who Benefits?

Approved Medicaid reimbursements are received directly by your district, not a state agency or other middleman, which means more dollars for the students in your schools. Medicaid funds have been available since the 1980s when the government began allowing states Medicaid agencies to pay for services outlined in a student’s individualized learning plan (IEP) according to the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-360).

2. Where Do I Start?

It’s likely that your district is submitting for Medicaid reimbursements already, but possible that they don’t include student transportation data (meaning funds are being left on the table). Medicaid reimbursement is often handled by special education administrators since eligibility is based on students’ IEPs. These students must be enrolled in a Medicaid program and receive transportation services that meet any special needs through your district.

Reaching out to these leaders will help you understand what opportunities exist to expand these requests. If it isn’t easy to find the program owner, ask your business or finance office to help you identify your district’s point person.

3. How Do I Establish Eligibility?

Once you’ve connected with the person responsible for submitting reports for your district, the next step is to take a look at your existing data. Work with your special education department to get a list of Medicaid-eligible students and identify which of those students are served by your transportation program.

If you’re using transportation management software, it should not only be able to bring this information over in your imported student files, but also allow you to manage the data at the student level. For example, if a student moves, info about their needs should carry over to their new address with them, rather than staying attached to their former bus stop location. Let your district contact know you’re able to provide attendance or ridership reports for eligible students.

4. How Do I Collect Accurate Data?

To qualify for reimbursement, your state may require you to track which days a student rode, where and what time they were picked up and dropped off, which aide rode with the student, and may need signatures from the driver, aide, or both. Utilize your resources to determine the easiest way to collect, store, and track that information, and talk with your transportation staff to make sure everyone understands the importance of accuracy and consistency.

Student ridership technology, such as Tyler Technologies’ Tyler Drive on-board tablet or Bus Attendance Mobile app, can help automate collection and data storage. By using one of these solutions, the driver or aide can log activities in real-time, helping to avoid asking a driver to recall all information at the end of the week or relying on paper forms that can get lost or damaged.

These solutions are key to maintaining a long-term reimbursement program by maintaining data in real-time. For example, Tyler’s software offers custom fields to track additional information needed for state or district reports, pulling this data from the integrated ridership tools to continue accurate data collection as requirements change.

5. How Do I Submit My Reports?

Once you’ve figured out the best way to collect, track, store, and report the necessary information, make sure you check in again with your district’s reimbursement lead. Many transportation directors or supervisors are not responsible for submitting their information directly to the state since special needs directors have other information to contribute. Reporting requirements were left to the discretion of each individual state, so it’s important to stay in communication with the contact at your district.

With these steps complete, your transportation operation is ready to benefit from Medicaid reimbursements now and in every year ahead. A little extra data collection and sharing can make all the difference as we work to provide the safest transportation and the best education to every student.

There are a number of resources available to learn more about Medicaid reimbursement for School-Based Services, including:

  • The National Alliance for Medicaid in Education (NAME), a national organization created to focus on the intricacies of Medicaid reimbursement programs
  • The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), who works to support and provide services to state special education leaders across the country
  • The National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), who is focused on increasing awareness of Medicaid programs and empowering leaders to drive innovation in the use of Medicaid reimbursement programs

If your state does not have a reimbursement program, contact your state’s Medicaid agency to learn more about possible programs and ways to get involved.

To learn more about the technology described above, contact Tyler Technologies at transportation.solutions@tylertech.com.

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