The ACCESS program is a system that can be used by schools districts, intermediate units, state-owned schools, or approved private schools (APS) to obtain funding for health related services for special education students. These agencies can obtain funding for health-related services that are currently being provided to children.
Public Law 94-142 (PL 94-142), the Education for all Handicapped Children Act, was signed into law in 1975. One of the mandates established by this act is that all school districts are responsible for providing health-related services. In 1988, Congress clarified this by passing the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act (PL 100-360). This law stated that federal Medicaid funds must be available to reimburse for the cost of related services found in a child's IEP, individualized service plan, or individualized family service plan (IFSP). Therefore, state education agencies are eligible for federal reimbursement for related services they are providing to children who are eligible for Medicaid.
ACCESS is a method of gaining medical assistance (MA) reimbursements for the cost of related services currently being provided to MA eligible students. Examples of services that are billable are speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other related services. School districts must enroll as medical assistance providers to be eligible. After receiving parental permission to share information adn physician authorization to determine medical necessity, they submit invoices to MA for the services they are providing to eligible students. The funds received from MA are maintained in an account managed by PDE and must be used to enhance or expand special education programs. The Bureau of Special Education must approve all requests for the funds.
There are several restrictions on the use of ACCESS funds. They must be used within the special education program. They may not be used to supplant professional positions that the LEA has been supporting. They may not be used for capital improvements. They may not be transferred to the district general funds and used outside the special education program.
The IU submits reimbursement requests for all eligible services that are provided to the district by IU therapists. The following services are being billed: Speech, Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy, Hearing Impaired Services, Orientation and Mobility, Social Work, Personal Care Aides, Psychological Evaluations and Transportation. All reimbursements for services provided to school age children goes into the district's account and may be used to support the district's special education program.
In order for a school district to request funds from their IU ACCESS account, a letter of intent must be submitted to:
IU8 Executive Office
Attn: Amy Woomer
4500 6th Avenue
Altoona, PA 16602
Requests that are approved and do not exceed the balance in the school district's ACCESS account are forwarded to the Business Manager. The Business Manager in turn sends the request on form PDE-352 to the PDE comptroller's office for processing. A check is then issued and sent to the school district for the amount requested.