Policy Year In Review

Policy Year In Review

The 115th Congress was the most successful congress for the advancement of school-based health center’s policy priorities in nearly a decade. Victories include a bi-partisan, bicameral Reauthorization bill and the new opioid law, which includes both SBHC tele-health language as well as grants for trauma-informed mental health grants in schools.

Reauthorization

The School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act of 2018 was introduced in both the House and Senate gaining broad bi-partisan support in both chambers. The House bill, HR 5899, sponsored by Representatives Faso (R-NY), Upton (R-MI), Sarbanes (D-MD), and Tonko (D-NY) secured 34 additional sponsors inclusive of 17 Republicans and 21 Democrats. A SBHC bill has NEVER received this number of Republican sponsors before! And, although Congressman Faso lost his reelection, another upstate NY Republican, Congresswoman Stefanik (R-NY), has agreed to be lead sponsor when the bill is introduced in the 116th Congress.

The Senate bill, S.3602 introduced in October, is also a bi-partisan victory for SBHCs. Sponsored by Senators Capito (R-WV) and Stabenow (R-MI), S. 3602 has gained the support of Senators Murkowski (R-AK) and Gillibrand (D-NY).  We are confident the bill will secure many additional bi-partisan co-sponsors with your continued advocacy and support when introduced in the new Congress.

Opioid Bill

Two provisions in the opioid legislation signed into law in October are especially germane to SBHCs: the bill requires HHS to issue guidance to states on state options for federal reimbursement of state’s expenditures for substance use disorder services and treatment using tele-health including services furnished through school-based health centers. The separate provision requires the Comptroller General to evaluate children’s access to substance abuse disorder services under Medicaid and submit a report to Congress within one year after enactment. The evaluation must include an analysis of improving access to and outcomes of substance abuse disorder services by expanding the use of tele-health in school-based health centers.

The bi-partisan language was sponsored by Senators Roberts (R- KS), Cornyn (R- TX), Thune (R- SD), Carper (D- DE), Stabenow (D- MI), Nelson (D- FL), and Warner (D- VA).  That the three Republican sponsors of this bill – all long-term members of the Senate – have never before supported SBHC legislation is a tremendous victory.

This unprecedented success is attributable to the outstanding efforts of school-based health care advocates across the nation. None of this would have been possible without your efforts to call upon elected leaders to urge their support. We will take this momentum into a new congress with with a renewed sense of energy and excitement for what the next two years will bring for SBHCs.

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