Bipartisan Legislation Introduced in Congress to Reauthorize SBHC Program, Bolster Support for School-Based Health Centers

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced in Congress to Reauthorize SBHC Program, Bolster Support for School-Based Health Centers

WASHINGTON, DC (April 3, 2019) – Today, in a bipartisan, bicameral show of support for school-based health care, a group from the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate introduced legislation to reauthorize the School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) program through 2024 and provide SBHCs with the federal support they need to continue delivering valuable, low-cost health care to students across the country. The program’s statutory authorization expired in 2014.

Sponsors of the House bill (H.R.2075) are John Sarbanes (D-MD), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Fred Upton (R-MI). Sponsors of the Senate bill (S.1013) include Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Different from previous versions, this bill includes Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) as eligible providers.

In his public statement about the bill, Congressman Sarbanes recognized that “This bipartisan federal investment will play an important role in improving health outcomes and academic success for children across America. By strengthening our national commitment to School-Based Health Centers, we can ensure that children in every community have access to affordable primary care.”

“School-based health centers are a critical source of healthcare for students including those struggling with mental health challenges or substance use disorders,” said Congressman Tonko. “As we work to confront our nation’s opioid epidemic, these centers have become even more important, especially in communities where there is limited access to substance use and mental health care. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in a bipartisan basis to support this important measure that serves students and families across Upstate New York.”

“Proper health care is essential for a student’s academic success,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “Regardless of the community they live in, students of all backgrounds deserve access to affordable primary health care. The SBHC program is a critical resource that ensures each student has a chance to succeed and make a difference in this world. I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan, life-saving bill.”

“SBHCs serve an important role in underserved communities in Michigan and around the United States, offering primary care services as well as mental health services and dental care,” said Congressman Upton. “Just last month I met with students and staff at a school-based health center in my district and heard moving stories about the positive impact the center has had on their lives. I am proud to support this reauthorization as we work to keep our children healthy and help all students succeed.”

Senator Capito stressed the needs of rural communities, saying, “School-based health centers provide important services that many children in West Virginia and across the country rely on—especially those living in rural communities. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation to reauthorize these centers so we can ensure our children have access to basic health services that will go a long way in supporting their health and wellbeing.”

“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. “This is an important step toward making sure children across Michigan continue to receive the care they need throughout the school day.”

“The reauthorization of school-based health centers is a step forward to ensuring that all children and youth thrive,” said John Schlitt, President of the School-Based Health Alliance.  “At the heart of the SBHC model is the incontestable fact that healthy students are better learners. SBHCs deliver high-quality primary and mental health care services in a location that’s safe, convenient, and accessible. Our communities need powerful, evidence-based interventions like SBHCs to address the root causes of chronic absenteeism, academic failure, conduct disorder and civic disengagement.”

For more information on the School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act, please contact Megan Zuckerman at (757) 472-1183 |  megan@capitolworksllc.com or Brooke Lehmann at (202) 841-4341 | brooke@capitolworksllc.com.

For details about this legislation, click here.

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