Comprehensive School-Based Health Care Legislation Would Increase Children and Adolescents’ Access to Primary and Mental Health Care Services
WASHINGTON, DC—On Monday, February 13, Senators Debbie Stabenow (MI), Gary Peters (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), and Al Franken (MN), along with House Representatives John Sarbanes (MD), Debbie Dingell (MI), Eric Swalwell (CA), Rosa Delauro (CT), and John Larson (CT) re-introduced the Hallways to Health Act (S.356/H.R.1027), legislation that would provide federal support for high-quality comprehensive health care and mental health services to students at school-based health centers (SBHCs) across the country. This legislation was originally introduced last year in the 114th Congress, and the re-introduction of the bill comes during National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, which is celebrated every February.
There are more than 2,300 SBHCs in 49 states and the District of Columbia. SBHCs are critical access points that provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents in schools, including primary care, behavioral and oral health services, and prevention and early intervention.
“At the heart of The Hallways to Health Act is the incontestable fact that healthy students are better learners. And what better time than now, in this uncertain health care landscape, for Congress to acknowledge school-based health centers. They represent a key strategy for ensuring our most vulnerable children and adolescents receive high-quality primary and mental health care services in a location that is safe, convenient, and accessible,” said John Schlitt, president of the School-Based Health Alliance.
The Hallways to Health Act would increase access to health care through SBHCs, expand the reach of SBHCs through community health workers and telemedicine technology, and provide technical assistance to improve care in medically underserved areas. In addition, the bill would ensure that all public health insurance programs reimburse SBHC providers for services covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to guarantee the long-term financial stability of these important centers.
“Too many children across our state do not have access to a family doctor and depend on school-based health centers for basic care,” said Senator Stabenow (MI). “This is an important step toward making sure children across Michigan receive the care they need throughout the school day.”
“School-based health care centers provide quality health care services to thousands of underserved students,” said Senator Peters (MI). “The Hallways to Health Act will better connect school-based health centers with skilled professionals, enhancing students’ wellness and encouraging healthy behaviors.”
“School-based health centers are the primary sources of care for thousands of American children,” said Congressman Sarbanes (MD). “We must provide these health centers with the resources they need to keep our children healthy and help them succeed in the classroom.”
To learn more about SBHCs or the Hallways to Health Act, or to schedule an interview with John Schlitt, please contact Suzanne Sellman, director of communications, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (202) 370-4384.
The School-Based Health Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1995 to serve as the national voice for school-based health care. The Alliance supports the school-based health care field by providing technical assistance, resources, and trainings so they can provide the best-quality health care to their patients. In addition, the Alliance advocates for policies on the local, state, and federal level that strengthen school health, and supports its technical assistance and advocacy work—and the entire school-based health care field—through quality research and evaluation.