A Big Win for School Health Services

July 01, 2022 | Written By:

On June 25, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which includes specific provisions for increasing access to school-based health services, particularly mental health services. This is a huge win for states and school districts and represents the culmination of over a decade of work by HSC and partners. 

The specific school health elements of the bill include an $8 million technical assistance center to support states and school districts in expanding and strengthening their school Medicaid programs – and $50 million in state grants to help them implement school Medicaid expansion. 

The need for this type of assistance is supported by the findings from HSC’s Healthy Students, Promising Futures initiative which works directly with state teams that are working to expand their school Medicaid programs. 

We are thrilled that we have been able to leverage our experience helping more than 20 states strengthen and improve Medicaid-funded school health services into recommendations that policymakers have incorporated.

It is important to note that in policy advocacy, wins often come in unexpected ways. In this case, we have some concerns about the proposal’s inclusion in the Senate’s bipartisan gun violence package, in a way that could be seen as framing youth mental health services as a solution to a crisis that we strongly believe cannot be addressed without meaningful gun control. 

Nevertheless, expanding youth access to school-based mental health services through Medicaid is essential to ensuring that young people can access the care they need, and this was the legislative vehicle that got it done. Even as we celebrate this important legislative success, we will continue to advocate for a true solution to the shocking toll of gun violence on America’s children. 

We look forward to working with more states and school districts to help maximize their efforts to expand school Medicaid and ensure students receive the mental and physical healthcare they need.

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