(HealthNewsDigest.com) - WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today introduced the Hallways to Health Act, a bill to help school-based health centers (SBHCs) expand student access to high-quality health care. The bill will enable SBHCs – which serve predominately low-income and medically underserved children and adolescents – to increase the availability and quality of primary care, behavioral and oral health services that are offered to students.
“Too many children across our country 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 receive the care they need throughout the school day.”
“School-based health centers are the primary sources of care for thousands of American children,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We must provide these health centers with the resources they need to keep our children healthy and help them succeed in the classroom.”
“At the heart of The Hallways to Health Act is the incontestable fact that healthy students are better learners,” said John Schlitt, president of the School-Based Health Alliance. “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.”
The Hallways to Health Act contains several important components, including:
- A new grant program for SBHCs to hire community health workers that help encourage children and families to adopt healthy behaviors and to connect families with other programs that address employment, housing or nutritional needs;
- Expanding telemedicine capabilities for SBHCs, which can improve access to health services in rural and underserved communities; and
- Formally recognizing SBHCs as essential community providers, which will allow them to provide health services to children covered by Medicaid and CHIP.
For more information about the Hallways to Health Act, see here for a bill summary and see herefor a section-by-section analysis of the bill.