WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced a new bill on May 20 to help schools across the country provide comprehensive health care to students.
The Hallways to Health Care Act would invest in school-based health centers, which play a crucial role in providing health care to students who have limited access to medical care outside of school. School-based health centers provide a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, nutrition education, health education and health promotion activities.
“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 shows why it is so important that our school-based health centers receive our full support,” Senator Capito said. “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.”
“School-based health centers play an important 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,” Senator Stabenow said. “My new bill with Senator Capito will help the health care staff at these centers continue their important work helping students.”
Last year, Senators Capito and Stabenow successfully passed the School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act and it was signed into law. This legislation authorized funding for school-based health centers through 2026.
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.
School-based health centers have continued to provide services to their patients throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with more than half of the centers offering telehealth services. Throughout the pandemic, school-based health centers have seen a 73% increase in the use of vital mental health services by children and adolescents. School-based health centers also regularly help coordinate school COVID-19 responses to keep students, teachers, and other employees safe.