Two AASA and ASBO Webinars: FRAC (April 7) and USDA (April 16)

(SCHOOL NUTRITION) Permanent link

Two AASA/ASBO Webinars: FRAC (April 7) and USDA (April 16)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on district food service operations, AASA and the Association of School Business Officials, are holding two webinars that will help Educational leaders impacted by COVID-19 provide students with access to healthy and nutritious meals.
  • The first webinar on April 7 – Feeding Students During COVID-19 – will focus on best practices, tools, and resources school districts are currently leveraging to feed children, and feature presentations from nutritional experts from the Food Research Action Committee. You can register by clicking here.
  • The second webinar on April 16 – USDA COVID-19 School Waivers – featured a presentation from USDA Food Nutritional Service Child Nutrition Branch Chief for School Meals, Tina Namian, and focused on the Department’s latest round of federal school meal waivers available to districts closed because of COVID-19. Check out a recording of the conversation by clicking here. Also, you can view the slide deck for the webinar by clicking here.

AASA COVID-19 School Response Study

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AASA COVID-19 School Response Study

Today, April 6, 2020, AASA, published its full COVID-19 School Response Study. While the report was not experimental and didn't employ random sampling, the survey garnered a total of 1,608 responses from a sample of AASA members from 48 states, which consisted of superintendents, associate superintendents, aspiring superintendents, and other school system leaders.  
Specifically, the studies' data show preliminary findings from the 32-question survey instrument and categorizes responses by (1) district and respondent characteristics (i.e. state, size, geographic location, etc.), (2) school districts’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) the fiscal impact of COVID-19. We hope this resource will serve as a data source that informs our members, state and federal policymakers, and others looking to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s schools and communities. Click here to read the full report. 

CMS Guidance for Billing Medicaid During COVID-19


CMS Guidance for Billing Medicaid During COVID-19

We just received an official bulletin from CMS that contains some very important information for districts that are billing Medicaid during the pandemic. Specifically, the bulletin answers questions about RMTS, which I have excerpted below.

Overall, we understand that States are getting considerable flexibility from CMS with regards to the delivery and reimbursement for school-based Medicaid services. For example, States are getting permission to use RMTS data averaged over two quarters for this quarter or are being allowed to use last quarter’s RMTS data for this quarter. Some are still requiring time studies, but doing so on a much more limited basis.

Beyond waivers, several states have passed emergency rules that clarify that the provision of Medicaid reimbursable special education services can be done via any modality for reimbursement except text or email. This is also very helpful and allows districts to continue maximizing their reimbursement.

On the whole, it appears CMS is granting whatever flexibility States are asking for, so if districts in your state require additional flexibility for Medicaid reimbursement they should be talking with their SEAs and State Medicaid offices and asking for it.


Third Party Questions and CMS Responses

If school is in session but being conducted remotely, for the purposes of the Random Moment Time Study (RMTS) used in allocating Medicaid administrative cost, please confirm that eligible RMTS school staff may continue to respond to their sampled RMTS moment indicating their activity for their sampled date and time (even if they were working remotely).

Yes, even though the participant is working remotely, he or she may respond to the sampled RMTS moment.

For those individuals sampled for the RMTS who are not working, please confirm that the state or school district can report the time as paid or unpaid time not working.

For those individuals who are sampled, but are not working, the sample moment should be coded to paid time not working if they are salaried, or unpaid time if they are furloughed without pay or in some other unpaid status at the time of the sample moment.  The moments that are coded to paid time not working should be reallocated across the other activity codes and a portion of the costs recognized.

The current Medicaid Administrative Claiming (MAC) Plan provides guidance for a situation when 85% percent RMTS compliance isn’t reached, by allowing moments to be coded as non-Medicaid until compliance is reached.  However, the plan also requires individual districts to reach 85 percent RMTS participation or potentially incur penalties and/or non-participation in claiming. Would CMS be willing to NOT impose individual district penalties while the school districts are working remotely during the pandemic?

We recognize that RMTS overall staff participation may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  During the timeframe of the declared Public Health Emergency, CMS would not ask states to impose any individual district penalties for districts that do not reach 85 percent RMTS participation.  States could modify the MAC Plan to temporarily suspend this requirement during the public health emergency.
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