Direct Certification with Medicaid for Free and Reduced-Price Meals (DCM-F/RP) Demonstrations, Year 2 (Executive Summary)
- 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 effects of using Medicaid data to directly certify students for free and reduced-price school meals under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs in fifteen states in School Year (SY) 2017-18.
Unlike other programs used for direct certification (e.g., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)), Medicaid participation does not confer categorical eligibility for free school meals. Rather, income data from the state Medicaid agency matched to student records must be used to determine eligibility. Medicaid comes last in the hierarchy of direct certification: students are only directly certified based on Medicaid if they are not identified using another program.