A Kenner-based community health center could open offices in several parish schools under a proposal set to go before the Iberville Parish School Board.
A partnership with Access Health Louisiana is being touted as a way to provide quality health care to Iberville students amid annually shrinking Medicaid allotments the district uses, in part, to pay its school nurses.
“We used to get somewhere around $300,000 a year, but we’ve hardly been getting anything from Medicaid since 2012,” Superintendent Ed Cancienne said.
The school district’s chief financial officer, Jolain Landry, confirmed in an email Friday the school district is expected to see an approximately 60 percent reduction in Medicaid funds this year.
“Three years ago, Medicaid ‘restructured’ the eligible services and the reimbursement amount for school nurses,” Landry wrote. “We have not received any funds in three years because the federal/state has not made any final decisions.”
The administration claims federally approved health centers, like what’s being proposed by Access Health, could help the district offset its nurses’ salaries by allowing them to work at the various health centers when needed, and Access Health would reimburse the school district for their time.
Access Health Louisiana is described on its website as a nonprofit network of community-based health centers operating nearly 20 sites throughout the state.
In a proposal the School Board is set to receive at its meeting Monday, Access Health hopes to open health centers on campuses throughout the parish over the next three years. The first proposed site would be at Plaquemine High School in January.
The proposal states the school district won’t have to front any money to open the school-based clinics. Federally qualified health centers are funded by Medicaid and private insurance, the proposal reads.
The administration’s proposal comes just two months after the board severed its more than 20-year arrangement with the St. Gabriel Health Clinic, which operated two health clinics at the district’s two schools in St. Gabriel, on the east side of the parish.
Little insight into the board’s decision to end its partnership with the St. Gabriel Health Clinic has been given.
Board President Darlene Ourso previously said the district tried to iron out a new agreement with the clinic’s CEO, Victor Kirk, but those negotiations fell apart.
On Friday, Kirk declined to comment as well.
Shortly before the board’s decision, St. Gabriel Health Clinic was hit with a shower of criticism from parents claiming students were being pulled from core classes by clinic nurses for medical exams, billing parents’ insurance companies without proper consent prior to treatment and attempting to treat students without parental consent forms on file.
“Apparently, in the eyes of the School Board, St. Gabriel Health Clinic did not operate at a standard that was acceptable to them,” Cancienne said.
Cancienne said the district’s nurses will cover the medical needs of students parishwide either full time or on a rotating schedule.
“If we don’t get approval on an agreement with Access Health, then we will continue to rotate nurses,” he said.
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