Study: Cutting HS Dropout Rate In Half Could Save TX Half a Billion On Medicaid

Texas has a high school dropout rate of just under 7%. HISD, the largest in the state, has a dropout rate approaching 12%. A new study claims if Texas could cut its dropout rate in half, it could save half-a-billion dollars on Medicaid spending.

The study comes from the Alliance for Excellent Education. It calls itself a non-partisan advocacy group that works to shape federal policies to help more students graduate from high school. Bill DeBaun is a policy associate.

"We looked at all the high school non-completers across the country, and then, by state. And estimated, based on what we're spending on Medicaid, how much money could we be saving if half of the non-completers in the country had high school diplomas?"

The Alliance estimates if Texas could bring its dropout rate to somewhere around 3.5%, it could save $547 million a year on what it spends on Medicaid. DeBaun says high school graduates are more likely to have a better-paying job that includes some type of health insurance.

"High-school graduates tend to have better health outcomes in terms of lower rates of alcoholism, obesity, smoking, heart disease."

In fiscal year 2011, Medicaid spending in Texas totaled nearly $30 billion. Ten billion dollars of that came from the state. The Alliance says if Texas could save half-a-billion dollars, that money would go back to the general fund to help cover other budget shortfalls.

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David Pitman

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