Q&A with Bay District Schools: What parents need to know about new school health services plan

Published: Aug. 21, 2018 at 3:48 PM CDT
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After hearing many concerns from parents in the community NewsChannel 7/ Local 18 News investigated the new health care agreement with Bay District Schools to see how it will impact local families. Many expressed concern about how services would be provided to children and how parents' insurance could be billed for such services.

We sent a list of questions to Bay District Schools about the new health care agreement with PanCare. We are seeking clarification of the

that was sent home to parents. Here are our questions and answers from the district.

Q: When and why did Bay District Schools not renew its agreement with the Florida Department of Health in Bay County to provide health/medical services in Bay District Schools?

A: Bay District Schools and the Florida Department of Health were unable to reach a contractual agreement for the school health services program this summer.

Q: Once it was decided not to renew services with the Florida Department of Health in Bay County, were the health/medical services for local schools put out for bid?

A: State Rule 6A-1.012(11)(a)&(b), F.A.C.

(11) The requirement for requesting competitive solicitations for commodities or contractual services from three or more sources is hereby waived as authorized by Section 1010.04(4)(a), F.S., for:

(a) The purchase by district school boards of professional services which shall include, without limitation, artistic services; academic program reviews; lectures by individuals; auditing services not subject to Section 218.391, F.S.; legal services, including attorney, paralegal, expert witness, court reporting, appraisal or mediator services; and health services involving examination, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, medical consultation or administration; and,

(b) The purchase by district school boards of educational services and any type of copyrighted materials including, without limitation, educational tests, textbooks, printed instructional materials, computer software, films, filmstrips, videotapes, dvds, disc or tape recordings, digital recordings, or similar audio-visual materials, and for library and reference books, and printed library cards where such materials are purchased directly from the producer or publisher, the owner of the copyright, an exclusive agent within the state, a governmental agency or a recognized educational institution;

Q: How was PanCare selected to be the provider of health/medical services?

A: Bay District Schools and PanCare have worked together to provide dental services to students in our district. PanCare were able to provide these additional health services to supplement the programs they were already providing at our Schools of Hope and through the TeleHealth and Dental programs.

Q: Some parents are complaining they are not comfortable with the quality of PanCare services, and want to know if the new caregivers will have the same training and qualifications as nurses or technicians who were employed by the Health Department. How do you respond to those concerns?

A: The school-level health techs under both the current and previous contracts are required to have the same qualifications and same levels of training. In fact, PanCare offered positions to many previously-employed health techs so many schools will see familiar faces in these roles.

Q: Who has been providing health/medical services for the first week of school, prior to PanCare being voted into service today?

A: PanCare has been the approved contractual provider for health techs since the July 24th board meeting. Today’s meeting approved another contract adding emergency care plans and other services to their responsibilities.

Q: This week an IRIS alert was sent to parents, and they received forms that were sent home with their children, titled “Parent Consent for School Health Services for 2018-19.” . Can you explain the nature of these forms?

A: Parents have to give consent for school health services and for emergency treatment. This is the form that allows parents to select the school-based services that are most appropriate for their child.

Q: What happens if a parent does not sign the form and their child has a medical emergency at school? Will school personnel or health technicians treat the child with CPR, an epinephrine injection (if the child has a doctor prescribed epipen) or administer other lifesaving treatments until 911 arrives?

A: Student specific care plans, prepared under the guidance of physicians, direct school-based health technicians in the use of medications such as epipens. In the case of an emergency, as always, we will take appropriate lifesaving measures.

Q: During an emergency, is the school going to take the time to look up a child’s form to see if it is signed before administering medical care?

A: In an emergency, someone on staff immediately pulls the student’s emergency action plan (specific to a student’s medical condition) to ensure that the most appropriate medical care is being provided while that care is being provided.

Q: Will parents be billed for simple treatments, such as “band aids on boo-boos,” dizziness or headaches, or generally not feeling well? This involves a trip to the nurse’s office, then typically a parent is called, but will a parent be billed for the attention received before the parent is advised to pick up the child from school?

A: No parent is being billed for anything. Parents have the option to approve the billing of their private insurance if they choose if/after a billable event has occurred.

Q: Why should parents now have their insurance or Medicaid billed, if that has never been done in the past? Especially considering that Bay District Schools is paying PanCare $525,000.00 for its services? Isn’t that amount greater than the amount the District was paying for services provided through the Florida Department of Health in Bay County?

A: Medicaid has always been billed for services provided to students who are covered by that program. Last year’s DOH contract was $333,000 but their proposal was for more than $800,000 for this year with fewer services being offered.

Q: The district is now indicating on their Facebook page (as of today) that even if parents have Insurance/Medicaid, they do not have to sign the bottom portion of the form titled “Financial Responsibility.” However, nowhere on the form does this “appear” to be an option. Why would a parent willingly want to be billed for services? Many parents say this is simply not clear on the form. Do you agree?

A: At the bottom of the form, parents can initial if they give permission for Medicaid/Insurance billing. If they do not initial, no permission is given. At the top for the form, it states “parents initial items to which you consent”. We certainly understand a form of this length can be confusing which is why we encourage all parents to read the form carefully and to call Student Services if they have questions or need further explanation.

Q: If parents do not want to have their insurance or Medicaid billed, but they are still asked for that account information on forms like Field Trip releases and Sports Participation forms, will the district share that information with PanCare?

A: Insurance information provided on sports and field trip forms is COMPLETELY separate from Parental Consent for School Health Services documents.

Q: Many parents who have reached out to WJHG/WECP are upset about this agreement. They feel like it is unclear and they were not properly informed. What do you have to say to parents who are upset about the direction of health care services in Bay District schools?

A: We do understand that change can be confusing and the beginning of the school year, with built in change already, is a difficult time to roll out new services, new forms and a new agreement with a new company. However, we are excited to partner with PanCare to provide enhanced school-based healthcare services to our students … particularly to those who do not have access to healthcare providers of their own. We want to reiterate that parents have the option to initial consent for the services they want to choose for their child and they can determine whether or not private insurance billing is right for them. We appreciate all of the feedback we have received thus far and are considering all suggestions that have been provided as we move forward with this process.