NAACP Urges Full Funding for School-Based Health Centers
Racial and ethnic minority children, as well as low income children, are currently much less likely to have local access to adequate, affordable health care. Low-income children are twice as likely as other children to have no usual place to go when they get sick. In fact, one in four adolescents in America hasn’t visited a health care professional in the past year. This disproportionate lack of access to adequate health care among racial and ethnic minorities has lead to stark disparities in the number of African American and Hispanic children who are faced with severe health problems including asthma, diabetes, obesity, and hearing and vision problems as well as associated problems including poor performance in school and lower high school graduation rates.
One solution to this problem has been School Based Health Centers (SBHCs). More than 1,900 SBHCs provide comprehensive primary health care for nearly 2 million students – regardless of their ability to pay. Located on school properties and serving the schools’ students, SBHCs provide comprehensive health assessments, vision and hearing screenings, immunizations, mental health services, treatment for acute illnesses, laboratory services and prescription services. SBHCs also assist children and their families with enrollment in public insurance programs, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Out of the 1909 SBHCs located across the country, 57% of SBHCs are located in urban communities and roughly 70% of students using SBHCs are racial or ethnic minorities. SBHCs have been shown to be effective: high-school SBHCs users had a 50% decrease in absenteeism and 25% decrease in tardiness two months after receiving school-based mental health counseling; studies have also found that African-American male SBHC users were three times more likely to stay in school than their peers who did not use an SBHC.
Although SBHCs receive funding from a variety of sources, including states, private foundations, sponsor organizations and school districts or individual schools, many SBHCs also rely on federal funding to continue to operate. SBHCs received a boost with enactment of the NAACP-supported 2010 health care reform law, as it recognizes school-based health centers as primary care servers, and it opens the door for them to contract with private providers. Congress further recognized the importance of SBHCs in the 2010 health care reform law by providing $50 million a year for four years in one-time funding for construction, renovation, and equipment for SBHCs. As Congress embarks on its annual funding process (also known as “Appropriations”) for fiscal year 2013, it is important that SBHCs receive full funding in order to continue to build on their existing successes.
THE NAACP STRONGLY SUPPORTS SCHOOL BASED HEALTH CENTERS (SBHCS)
AND ENCOURAGES CONGRESS TO PROVIDE
FULL FUNDING FOR SBHCS IN FISCAL YEAR 2013.