Washington, D.C. – May 20, 2021 – The School-Based Health Alliance celebrates the introduction of a new bill, the Hallways to Health Care Act, which would help ensure that students have access to health care services at school-based health centers across the nation.
“The simple fact is that healthy kids learn better,” said Robert Boyd, President of the School-Based Health Alliance. “Senators Stabenow and Capito are long-time champions of the health care needs of students, particularly those from low-income households. Since the pandemic, health care inequities have become even more pronounced. These two leaders understand the importance of bringing health care directly to students in schools where they spend so much time. Their bipartisan bill will help to provide new and expanded school-based health centers and services across the nation. We are grateful for their continued support, and urge all Senators to support this critical legislation,”
School-based health centers provide a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, dental health, nutrition education, health education, case management, and health-promotion activities in schools. Since the onset of the pandemic, school-based health centers have continued to provide care both in-person, when possible, as well as increasingly through telehealth services. As one indicator of recent need, they have seen a 73% increase in the use of mental health services during this period. School-based health centers are also playing a central role in ensuring that eligible students can receive COVID-vaccinations at school, through vaccine clinics and extensive outreach efforts.
The bill was introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). If enacted, the Hallways to Health Care Act would:
- Provide $200 million in new funding to help school-based health centers provide comprehensive health care to students nationwide.
- Provide $50 million in new funding specifically for expanding behavioral health care at school-based health centers.
- Provide $100 million for the construction of new clinics and improvements and expansions of existing clinics.
- Create demonstration programs to increase and establish telehealth services at school-based health centers.
- Ensure clinics can receive technical assistance to improve their services.
This new bill follows Congress’ earlier passage of the School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act into law. Enacted in December 2020, this legislation authorizes funding for school-based health centers through 2026.
“School-based health centers play a critical role in providing care to so many children who don’t have access to a family doctor. They are also meeting a critical need for mental health services for children impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Stabenow in a statement. “My new bill with Senator Capito will make sure health center staff have the resources needed to provide these important services to students.”
“Children across West Virginia rely on the primary care, mental health services, health education, and drug addiction prevention counseling available within many of our schools. This is why it is so important that our school-based health centers receive our full support,” said Senator Capito in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the important role our school services play in the development of our young people, and our legislation will help these centers continue providing and grow this critical support.”
For more information about school-based health centers, visit www.sbh4all.org.
About the School-Based Health Alliance
Founded in 1995, the School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) is a nonproﬁt organization that advances and informs more than 2,500 school-based health care programs, enabling them to provide high-quality care to the nation’s most vulnerable children. The Alliance also supports a network of 22 state afﬁliates, collaborates with partner organizations in the school health ﬁeld, and serves as a resource to policymakers in the education and health sectors.