Policy Learning Collaborative State Team Spotlight: Connecticut

Advancing Legislation to Define SBHCs

s BlogWhat services are offered by school-based health centers (SBHCs)? Are these services paid by health insurers? In this era of health systems transformation, are there opportunities for SBHCs to get paid for services that haven’t traditionally been covered by health insurance? What would that payment model look like and how would it affect SBHC sustainability?

These were just a few of many questions the first cohort of policy learning collaborative participants tackled during their kick-off meeting in Washington, DC last November.  In fact, it led to an exciting moment for the Connecticut state team—in order to push payment policies that ensure SBHCs are not left behind in delivery and payment reform, there needs to be a common understanding of the SBHC delivery model across the state. Without universal acceptance among all stakeholders of what SBHCs are and what they do, it will be more challenging to build buy-in and support.

“The November meeting helped solidify my team’s goal to advance legislation that defines SBHC services,” says Jesse White-Fresé, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of School-Based Health Centers. “The statewide SBHC Advisory Committee met regularly for twelve months to develop a minimum definition and standards for SBHCs in Connecticut. In January, we shared the draft definition and standards with the Public Health Commissioner, who approved the document and submitted it to the chairs of the legislature’s Public Health and Education Committees. ”

The team’s hard work is paying off. The chairs of the Public Health Committee submitted bill SB 917 An Act Concerning School Based Health Centers, which includes the definition and urges the Commissioner of Public Health to adopt a minimum set of standards for SBHCs.  The bill was introduced in February and a public hearing was held in March with 12 testimony statements submitted in favor of the bill. The bill was unanimously approved in the Public Health Committee (27-0) on March 27 and is currently awaiting approval by the state legislature, which is expected to vote on the bill sometime between now and the end of June.

We support and commend the Connecticut state team for their persistent efforts to elevate the SBHC model through this significant and instrumental piece of legislation, and we urge our Connecticut members to contact their state legislators and urge them to pass this momentous bill.

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