Our guest blogger is Annabel Lee Hogg, Special Assistant to the Domestic Policy Team at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.The House plans to vote today on legislation that would eliminate an expansion of school-based health clinics that was included in the landmark 2010 health care reform law, calling the funding “duplicative and unwarranted.” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) sponsored H.R. 1214, which will repeal mandatory funding for the construction of the centers appropriated in the Affordable Care Act.
But school-based health centers are a vital resource for many low-income communities and medically underserved communities. They help ensure that students are ready to learn by providing free health services such as dental, vision, and nutrition services to students during schools hours. While there are already some 2,000 school based health clinics around the country, experts estimate that far more clinics are needed, as the ones already in existence are proving their effectiveness:
The Children’s Aid Society community schools in New York City, which provide access to five full-service SBHCs, demonstrate higher achievement than other city schools on state math assessments and post higher attendance rates. A recent study of ninth graders at high schools in Seattle with SBHCs found that students who used the centers saw an increase in GPA and attendance.
High-risk students that use SBHCs have also been found to be less likely than nonusers to drop out of school and [more likely to] graduate. Sayre High School, a community school with a health clinic formed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, had a graduation rate of 80 percent in 2006-07 — significantly higher than the Philadelphia citywide average of 50 percent.
If the bill passes, it would be particularly devastating for people who live in Burgess’s district. A 2010 report found that up to 40 percent of children in the North Texas Corridor do not have health insurance or access to Medicaid-funded facilities, and in many cases, uninsured children do not even receive basic immunizations.
The centers also help to drive down health-care costs. “Research has shown that school-based health centers provide a cost-effective way to offer health services — lowering inappropriate emergency room use, hospitalizations, and ultimately lowering Medicaid costs,” said Representative John Dingell (D-MI).