So the Feds want some more of their Medicaid money back. They're moving to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid payments claimed by New York school districts to cover the cost of educating children with speech disabilities, most of whom are enrolled in special education programs.
Mostly, this sounds like the same old stuff (polite word). As we've said elsewhere, Medicaid is a verb as well as a noun. To Medicaid is to re-classify services (such as educational services) as health services so that reimbursement can be claimed from the federal government. In New York, this is an art form. I know several people whose careers have been made by their creative interpretation of federal law and regulation in order to Medicaid services and pull in federal revenues. That's what New York has been doing here.
But there's something else as well. I've listened to people in the education community (and not just in New York, by the way) about how record keeping for special education is a paper factory. It's a mechanically complex process, it's tedious paperwork, (teachers, like nurses filling out paperwork rather than teaching or nursing) it's messy (and therefore subjuct to legal challenge), it's terribly inefficient and it's probably not generating the additional Medicaid claims that it could if it were strategically automated. Given today's story, isn't that a twist!