Direct Certification with Medicaid for Free and Reduced-Price Meals (DCM-F/RP) Demonstration, Year 2

Direct Certification with Medicaid for Free and Reduced-Price Meals (DCM-F/RP) Demonstration, Year 2

Published: Sep 15, 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Mathematica

Brian Estes

Kathy Wroblewska

Hilary Wagner

Amanda Lee

Kelsey Chesnut

Key Findings
  • DCM‑F/RP resulted in substantial numbers of students directly certified to receive free or reduced-price meals based on Medicaid data. In SY 2017-18, 1,019,865 students were certified for free meals and 258,893 students were certified for reduced-price meals through DCM-F/RP. These students would not have been directly certified in the absence of the demonstration.
  • Although some of these students would have been certified by application in the absence of DCM‑F/RP, the total percentage of students certified for free meals grew between the baseline year and SY 2017–2018 in most demonstration States, and the total percentage of students certified for reduced-price meals grew in some States.
  • These changes in certification rates were not, however, consistently associated with changes in participation or reimbursement rates.
  • Implementation of DCM-F/RP was generally successful, but with longer timelines than expected. Administrative costs to state agencies involved in the demonstrations were modest and largely for start-up activities.

This report examines the impact of using Medicaid data to directly certify students for free and reduced-price school meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs in fifteen states in School Year 2017-18.

Unlike other direct certification methods with programs that confer eligibility for free school meals (e.g., with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administrative data), Medicaid participation does not confer categorical eligibility. Rather, income data from the state Medicaid agency must be matched to student records to determine eligibility. Medicaid comes last in the hierarchy of direct certification. Students are only directly certified with Medicaid if they are not identified using another program.

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