Some Schools Billing TennCare, Others Trying

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Hamilton County Schools have collected about $1.6 million from TennCare since becoming the first district in the state to seek reimbursement for special education services like physical therapy. Now other districts are following suit.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports ( that in some states, schools are required to bill Medicaid for reimbursable services. In those states, the departments of education generally provide clear guidance on how to seek the reimbursement.
In Tennessee, many district leaders have been intimidated by the process of requesting reimbursement. But increasingly they are turning to private companies like Chattanooga-based Stellar Therapy Services for help. Stellar works with Hamilton County and receives a percentage of reimbursements for handling the administrative work.
The Hamilton County School District bills TennCare for occupational therapy, physical therapy, audiology and speech language pathology services. The money received goes back into the special education department.
So far at least 15 other school systems in Tennessee are billing TennCare. And Stellar officials say the state’s biggest districts in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville are looking into it as well.
Wilson County Schools Special Education Director Jill Micco said her district decided to pursue reimbursement after seeing Hamilton County’s results. The district expects to receive as much as $30,000 a year.
Tullahoma City Schools Director of Special Education Tammy Hatfield said her district also has started filing for reimbursement. It has received about $10,000 so far that it is putting toward staff training and paying for a consultant.
Hatfield said she felt as if she were stepping out on a limb when her district started the process last year, but it is becoming much more common.
“Now, every time I go to a state conference, this topic comes up,” she said.

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