Representatives John Faso (R-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) today introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the School-Based Health Centers (SBHC) program. The legislation, H.R. 5899, will reauthorize the School-Based Health Centers program through 2023. The program’s statutory authorization expired in 2014.
SBHCs primarily operate in underserved communities and play a crucial role in the provision of primary care services to school children, which also includes dental screenings and mental health services. SBHCs have become increasingly important as opioid abuse has become more common amongst students who have visited a doctor for an injury or had surgeries.
“New York has the largest statewide network of SBHCs in the country and they are increasingly important in rural Upstate communities,” said Congressman Faso. “These health providers fill geographic service gaps and ensure that students are receiving necessary care, such as preventative check-ups, dental services, and mental health services. I am glad we have a bipartisan coalition that recognizes the importance of SBHCs. This reauthorization is long overdue.”
“School-based health centers are a critical source of healthcare for students including those with struggling mental health challenges or substance use disorders,” said Congressman Tonko. “In the midst of 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.”
“My home state of Michigan has 121 school-based health centers,” said Congressman Upton. “These health care providers fill a critical need for our kids including mental health services. I’m glad to join this bipartisan coalition supporting this reauthorization to ensure school-based health centers continue to help our kids succeed in every facet of life.”
“Thousands of children across the country depend on school-based health centers to deliver primary care, mental health services and dental treatment,” said Congressman Sarbanes.“This bipartisan effort will ensure that school-based health centers have the resources they need to keep our children healthy and help them succeed in the classroom.”
“The reauthorization of school-based health centers is a critical step forward for children. At the heart of the SBHC model is the incontestable fact that healthy students are better learners. SBHCs represent a key strategy for ensuring our children and adolescents receive high-quality primary and mental health care services in a location that’s safe, convenient, and accessible,” said John Schlitt, president of the School-Based Health Alliance. “In this critical time, SBHCs are also meeting the increased mental health needs of the lesser known victims of the national opioid epidemic – children who are affected by their parents’ or families’ struggles with addiction.”
- There are over 2,000 SBHCs nationwide that serve over two million students.
- More than 1/3 of SBHCs nationwide are in rural communities.
- Nearly 1,200 of SBHCs nationwide offer mental health services.