National Champion for SBHCs: Senator Debbie Stabenow

By Anna Burns, Outreach and Engagement Associate, School-Based Health Alliance

AM15_StabenowJohnIn order for any movement to be successful, it must have a powerful champion—an advocate with a strong voice who takes it upon him or herself to further the movement on the national scale. The school-based health care movement has such a champion: Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Senator Stabenow’s tenure in Congress, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, has been dedicated to creating greater equity in access to health care for the underserved—especially women and children. When we needed a permanent solution to assure school-based health centers (SBHCs) could be reimbursed through Medicaid and SCHIP, it was Senator Stabenow who led the charge with Senate Bill 1669, The Healthy Schools Act of 2007. Senator Stabenow was also integral in securing $200 million in mandatory funding for SBHCs under the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s SBHC Capital Program. This led to one of the most dramatic growth spurts of SBHCs in recent history.

The School-Based Health Alliance was pleased to honor Senator Stabenow’s dedication to our movement at a 20th Anniversary Reception on February 25, 2015. John Schlitt, President of the School-Based Health Alliance, gave her the organization’s National Champion Award in front of a crowd of her peers and fellow advocates.

It is Senator Stabenow’s deep commitment to our children, however, that makes her the ideal recipient of our award. Her passion for increasing access to health care for those young Americans who need it the most has been a constant theme in her Congressional career. Senator Stabenow has never strayed from the following maxim: “Healthy students make better learners.” The thousands of healthy children and adolescents served by their SBHCs thank her for that.

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