Capps Introduces Legislation to Improve Children’s Access to Health Care

Jul 9, 2013 Issues: Education, Healthcare

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Lois Capps (CA-24) announced that she has introduced the School-Based Health Centers Act, legislation that would provide continued federal support for critical, high-quality comprehensive health care, mental health care and social services at School-Based Health Centers across the country. In a country with more than 5 million uninsured children, School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) serve as vital health care safety net providers to the nearly 2 million students who have access to them. By providing these important health care services where children spend most of their day – at school – SBHCs help reduce emergency room visits while increasing school attendance and student achievement. Because of the current economic climate, many of the nearly 2,000 School-Based Health Centers are at risk of cutting services, jobs and closing.

School-Based Health Centers, like the one at Santa Maria High School, are critical to ensuring that many of our children continue to have access to vital health and mental health care services,” Capps said. “These centers provide a safe environment for students to seek help and are key to ensuring they get the assistance they need. School-Based Health Centers are a common sense way to keep our students healthy and learning and are often the only source of comprehensive health care for many students. We should be expanding these services, not cutting them.”

“We applaud Congresswoman Capps for her leadership in recognizing that school-based health centers are a critical health care access point for underserved students across the nation,” said Linda Juszczak, president of the School-Based Health Alliance (formerly known as the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care). “School-based health centers are redefining health for children and adolescents at the intersection of health and education. This model of care offers solutions to the problems facing federal policymakers as they struggle to achieve better – and more affordable – health care outcomes. Reauthorizing legislation to support school-based health centers isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart policy.” 

The School-Based Health Centers Act would reauthorize the only source of federal resources dedicated to the operations of SBHCs. The bill currently has 15 original cosponsors. SBHC legislation introduced by Congresswoman Capps in 2009 was included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, but that law is set to expire at the end of 2014 if not reauthorized.

Capps spoke about the importance of the bill on the House floor today. See video here, and a text of her remarks below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to legislation I am reintroducing, the School-Based Health Centers Act.

My bill is simple and straight forward – it reauthorizes the only source of federal support dedicated to the operations of School-Based Health Centers.

These centers provide vital preventative and primary health care services to over two million students nationwide.

They are often the only source of health care for children and adolescents, and they are easily accessible, keeping students healthy, in school, and learning.

Yet in the current economic climate, many of the nearly 2,000 centers are at risk of cutting services, jobs or even closing.

That is why I have reintroduced legislation to ensure these important health centers not only remain open, but can expand to serve more students.

Students deserve reliable access to quality comprehensive healthcare services.

And school-based health centers are one of the best ways to do just that.

I strongly urge my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring the School Based Health Centers Bill.

I yield back.