Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Legislation to Help Improve Health Care Services for Children in Schools

The Hallways to Health Act will help school-based health centers strengthen health care services for children

Monday, February 13, 2017

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced the Hallways to Health Act to help school-based health centers improve health care services for children. In Michigan, there are more than 120 school-based health centers that play a major role in providing basic health services for thousands of students who have limited access to medical care outside of school. Typically, a school-based health center provides a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, nutrition education, health education and health promotion activities. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) cosponsored the legislation and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“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 receive the care they need throughout the school day.”

“School-based health care centers provide quality health care services to thousands of underserved students,” said Senator Peters. “The Hallways to Health Act will better connect school-based health centers with skilled professionals, enhancing students’ wellness and encouraging healthy behaviors.”

“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.”

“Hallways to Health Act brings together health and education to work collectively to ensure that all of our children are healthy and learning,” said Deb Brinson, Interim CEO of the School Community Health Alliance of Michigan. “Health and education go hand and hand. Hallways to Health Act helps to remove health-related barriers to learning while improving; a student’s health status and academic performance and reduces health disparities. We all know and evidence shows that healthy children are successful students and successful students create stronger communities!”

“Physical and behavioral health are essential to a strong education for our nation’s children,” said Tom Livezey, superintendent of Oakridge Public Schools and board president of School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan. “Without a healthy body and a healthy mind, there is no way that our youth can learn efficiently and effectively. School-based health centers are a vital solution to a positive educational experience because they bring health care to where children are – the schools. The Hallways to Health Act recognizes the immense impact these continue to have on our youth throughout the country.”

The Hallways to Health Act will provide grants for school-based health centers that partner with community health care workers who can coordinate care and services in the community for families. The legislation will also create a demonstration project to provide telehealth services at centers and expand existing telehealth services in medically underserved areas. Finally, the bill will ensure school-based health centers can be reimbursed for covered services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program at the same level as services provided in a physician’s office or outpatient clinic.

Senator Stabenow championed the School-Based Health Center Capital Program as part of the Affordable Care Act to help centers access critical funding for construction, renovation and equipment needs. The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the School-Based Health Center Capital Program.