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School nurse jobs across the state could be in jeopardy

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - School nurse jobs across the state could be in trouble and parents are worried.

The Pike County Board of Health says Medicaid managed care providers are not paying what they owe, and now they can not afford to fund the programs.

For 17 years Teresa Reynolds has been a school nurse, but soon that could change.

"I want my job, but I also want these children taken care of. That's my ultimate goal," she said.

The Pike County Board of Health says the Medicaid managed care organization Kentucky Spirit owes them half a million dollars, and without it they can not fund the school nurse program. It is a pinch being felt across the state.

"Most areas in the state have the same three Medicaid providers, managed care organizations. None of them are paying like we would want them to," said Cindy Hamilton, Pike County Interim Public Health Director.

The Pike County Board of Health filed a lawsuit against Kentucky Spirit, and so far they say they are the only board of health to do so. But just this week House Bill 144 was proposed, and they hope it will help save school nurse programs across the commonwealth.

"What that states is that any MCO that doesn't reimburse the health departments, their patients would go back to a fee-for-service program," said Hamilton.

The uncertainty has many parents like Renee Wolfe worried. Both of her kids suffer with asthma.

"The school nurse is like their friend, their second mother. So I think they have a lot of responsibility, and the kids look up to them," she said.

But they say it is not just the kids with chronic illnesses that need the nurses.

"If we was not here the parent would have to come because the teachers can't do anything, and they would have to be sent home," said Reynolds.

For now officials say there is no clear solution in sight.

"It's sort of just a wait and see," said Hamilton.

She says they are trying to come up with alternative ways to fund the program.

Mountain News tried to contact Kentucky Spirit officials today, but our calls were not returned.

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