On Friday, February 26, Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) introduced the Hallways to Health Act (S.2590/H.R. 4621), legislation that would provide federal support for high-quality comprehensive health care and mental health services to students at school-based health centers (SBHCs) across the country.
The bill is listed as S.2590 in the Senate and H.R. 4621 in the House of Representatives. This legislation was introduced during National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, which is celebrated every February.
There are more than 2,300 SBHCs in 49 states and the District of Columbia. SBHCs are critical access points that provide comprehensive care to children and adolescents in schools, including primary care, behavioral and oral health services, and prevention and early intervention.
“With the introduction of Hallways to Health, Congress is taking a monumental step towards increasing access to primary care and mental health services for our nation’s most vulnerable children and adolescents, and securing the status of school-based health centers as an essential component of our health care safety net,” said John Schlitt, President of the School-Based Health Alliance.
The Hallways to Health Act would increase access to health care through SBHCs, incorporate community health workers and telehealth services in the SBHC model, and provide technical assistance to improve care in medically underserved areas. In addition, the bill would ensure that all public health insurance programs reimburse SBHC providers for services covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure the long-term financial stability of these important centers.
“Too many children across our country do not have access to a family doctor and depend on basic health care services during the school day,” said Senator Stabenow (D-MI). “The Hallways to Health Act will help school-based health centers with new resources to strengthen and improve health care services for children in need of care.”
“The Hallways to Health Act will improve access to quality health care services and healthy behaviors education for students in Michigan,” said Senator Peters (D-MI). “Better connecting school-based health centers with skilled professionals who offer timely, specialized treatment will not only enhance wellness but boost educational outcomes as well.”
“School-based health centers help ensure that all children have access to health and mental health care services,” Capps said. “As a school nurse, I have seen firsthand the link between health status and educational outcomes. SBHCs are an important tool to keep kids healthy, in the classroom, and learning. These centers are often the only access students have to vital health services and they help ensure students get the care they need when they need it.”
Read the text of S.2590 here and H.R.4621 here
Click here to read the Alliance’s 2013-14 Census of School-Based Health Centers Report, which includes national data about SBHCs and the services they provide
The School-Based Health Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 1995 to serve as the national voice for school-based health care. The Alliance supports the school-based health care field by providing technical assistance, resources, and trainings so they can provide the best-quality health care to their patients. In addition, the Alliance advocates for policies on the local, state, and federal level that strengthen school health, and supports its technical assistance and advocacy work—and the entire school-based health care field—through quality research and evaluation.