Illinois Policy Collaborative Team Participates in Washington, DC Learning Summit

By Divya Mohan Little, Director – Child and Adolescent Health Initiative, EverThrive Illinois

IL Policy CollaborativeIn early November, 2014, I joined a team of Illinois school-based health care experts, advocates, and funders at an in-person learning summit in Washington, DC. The summit was convened by the School-Based Health Alliance as part of their multistate policy learning collaborative. Team Illinois couldn’t be more excited to participate in this first cohort, and the timing couldn’t be better as the state rolls out major changes to the health care system.

Every member of the Illinois team benefited greatly from the summit. We learned from experts who challenged our thinking about school-based health center (SBHC) finance, and networked with peers from Oregon, New York, and Connecticut who share our commitment to finding innovative policy solutions for sustainable funding. We were proud (and surprised) to discover that our state is already leading in several different areas, including how SBHCs are allowed to bill for services.

The Illinois team is comprised of representatives from two SBHCs (one downstate and one in Chicago), the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Polk Bros Foundation. A huge benefit of the summit for me was getting the uninterrupted attention and focus of my partners who participated so intentionally and meaningfully over the two days. Every member of the team left invigorated and energized, albeit slightly overwhelmed with our subsequent task lists!

Currently, Illinois is in the third year of its managed care rollout. We accepted Medicaid expansion dollars, and will have no issues meeting the demands of increased enrollment. However, recent changes in the governor’s office will assuredly affect budget allocations for all human services. We will work to educate the new governor’s staff about the SBHC model and its integration in the wider health care landscape.

We will explore opportunities to maximize federal matching funds from Medicaid and work with our state Medicaid agency to enforce SBHC billing and reimbursement. We will continue to press for managed care representatives to meet with the SBHC field to fully leverage the resources health plans can bring to our mission.

Much of the work being done through this policy collaborative had to happen in Illinois. I’m so thrilled to have the infrastructure and resources that the School-Based Health Alliance provides to guide and standardize this work.

Check back in next December and we’ll hopefully have many policy victories to celebrate!

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