Billing Concerns Delay Proposed School-based Medicaid Rule (April 13, 2024)

Concerns over negative impacts to students’ out-of-school public insurance benefits appear to be delaying the release of a U.S. Department of Education (USDE) final rule that is supposed to ease the process of obtaining parental consent for Medicaid school-based health services. While some worry that children’s school-based services can adversely affect outside services, there appears to be no concrete examples of such. In fact, parental consent forms allowing for school-based Medicaid billing explicitly state that such permissions will not affect lifetime coverage or any other insured benefits.

However, last August 26th organizations said in a letter to the USDE that, “Parents are routinely informed, sometimes even after services in other settings have already been rendered, that the Medicaid agency has deemed them duplicative with school-based services and their coverage is denied.”

The final rule was expected to be released in January and there is still no release date in sight.

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USDE Sends Dear Colleague Letter Urging Schools to Address 2024-25 Attendance Issues (March 28, 2024)

On March 22, 2024, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) informing schools that “there is still more work to do” to address chronic student absenteeism as the 2024-25 approaches.
Thus far, many school districts have increased home visits and utilized dashboards to effectively track attendance.
In his letter, Sec. Cardona urged schools to use accountability systems to measure chronic absenteeism to identify schools for support and improvement. He also enjoined each state to commit to helping students attend and engage in school daily, ensure more students attend regularly for the rest of the 2023-24 school year, and to lay a foundation now for more progress in the 2024-25 school year.
Click here to access the DCL.

Due to Miscalculation of Data, FAFSA Forms Corrections are Now the Latest Delay (March 28, 2024)

On March 25, 2024, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) announced that the ability for students to make updates and corrections to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms in the first half of April. This is another delay in a process that has been rife with delays and technical issues.

In advance of that implementation, USDE will provide detailed information to partners, students, and families on how to correct the most common FAFSA form errors including no signatures and selecting ‘yes’ to applying for unsubsidized loans only (Question 8).

The reason for this most recent delay is due to a recently identified a vendor issue that was incorrectly calculating the Student Aid Index for records of dependent students with assets. That issue has now been resolved.

To date, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has processed more than 4.3 million FAFSA forms and delivered ISIRs to the majority of schools, states, and designated scholarship organizations.

Click here for more information from the USDE.

USDE, HHS, and PaTTAN Provide Student Discipline and Inclusion Guidance to LEAs (March 25, 2024)

On March 25, 2024, Bureau of Special Education Director Carole L. Clancy sent a PENN*LINK message to all LEAs with the subject line Recent Guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and PaTTAN. That message states that, for the 2023-24 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Bureau of Special Education (BSE) is sharing updated links to recent guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education (USDE) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The links below will cover the topics of discipline provisions for students with disabilities as set forth in the Individuals with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), inclusion of students with disabilities in early childhood programs, general supervision responsibilities, student discipline under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, military-connected children with disabilities and Intervener Services. These links are provided for review.

For additional information, please visit the following sites.

For questions about the recent guidance, please email Tim Krushinski [email protected].

USDE FY2024 Budget is Finally Approved (March 24, 2024)

On March 23, 2024, President Joe Biden signed the FY 2024 budget for the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and other agencies. This signing followed the March 22nd approval by the House and Senate.

Under the approved budget, the USDE receives $79.1 billion for FY 2024, which is $500 million less than was received for FY 2023. The agreement comes more than six months after the Oct. 1, 2023 deadline to finalize the FY 2024 budget appropriations for the USDE and several other agencies.

For the USDE, Title I and state grants for special education services each receive a $20 million increase over FY 2023 allocations and avoids a Republican-led proposal recommending an 80% cut in Title I funding.

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