With the upcoming referendum vote on Medicaid expansion, it seems like an appropriate time to bring up another Medicaid (MaineCare) option.

Maine loses somewhere on the order of $100 million a year in Medicaid for education. Maine was drawing nearly $100 million a year through MaineCare for early childhood and school-age special education during the Baldacci years. Unfortunately, the state badly managed the program and had to cease all but a fraction of the billing for education-related services.

As with most things, it is possible to do it right. It does require an interest and commitment not present then. Now? Fortunately, there are alternatives that make it easier.

An option under the Maternal and Child Health program allows MCH and Medicaid to develop collaborative options for special populations. Children in educational programs up to age 21 are an example. They need not be children with special needs.

This Maternal and Child Health option allows services and eligibility to be defined separately from the mainstream MaineCare program. These services may be limited to specific providers for specifically designed services and at rates determined only for that provider group. In Maine’s past attempt, eligibility of education services for MaineCare was a problem because services and education providers did not meet MaineCare provider eligibility requirements.

And the cost of implementing this Maternal and Child Health option in terms of increased state matching dollars? Zero, if Maine elects to limit the program to existing services for which the state and local school districts are already paying.

Ask your local legislators why Maine isn’t interested.

Dean Crocker