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Repeal of Grants for Construction of School-Based Health Centers

After voting in April to end Medicare as we know it for seniors, on May 4th Republicans passed a bill by a vote of 235-191 to reduce access to health care for young people (H.R. 1214, Repeal of Grants for Construction of School-Based Health Centers). This bill would repeal grants for construction, renovation and equipment of school-based health centers and rescind unobligated balances.  These funds support the improvement and expansion of health centers in schools across the country to improve access to primary care health care services for children and adolescents.

Key facts:

School-Based Health Centers Have Been Effective and Successful-- Now Providing Key Health Services to Nearly 2 Million Children and Adolescents Across the Country. School-based health centers (SBHCs) are ensuring that children and adolescents across the country gain access to high-quality, comprehensive medical care, mental health services, preventive care, social services, and youth development.  These centers particularly serve children and adolescents in need - children and adolescents who often do not have access to family doctors of their own.

School-Based Health Centers Have Been Shown to Increase Academic Performance and Reduce Absenteeism.   For example, a recent study finds that high school SBHC users had a 50 percent reduction in absenteeism and 25 percent reduction in tardiness after receiving school-based mental health counseling.  In addition, SBHC users of mental health services increased their grade point averages over time compared to nonusers. 

Students Do Better When They Come to the Classroom Healthy and Ready to Work.  Teachers and other educators, parents, and students alike all agree:  Students perform better in the classroom when they come to school healthy and ready to work.  And study after study has shown this to be true.  School-based health centers (SBHCs) were initially conceived and are specifically designed to help achieve this goal.  In essence, they bring the doctor's office to a school so that students can avoid unnecessary health-related absences and remain in the classroom prepared to study and learn.

School-Based Health Centers Have Become Increasingly Widespread as They Have Been Shown to be Effective.  School-based health centers have been enormously successful in helping to improve students' access to health care; improve students' academic performance; decrease school absenteeism; and reduce health care costs.  This, in turn, has led to a proliferation in the growth of SBHCs around the country.  Indeed, over the last 15 years, the number of SBHCs has doubled.  This powerful track record has engendered strong support for SBHCs - across the country and across the political spectrum.

Republicans Are Seeking to Repeal Funding for School-Based Health Centers, Despite the Fact that These Centers Are Proven to be Cost-Effective.  Multiple studies have found that school-based health centers are a cost-effective investment of public resources - resulting in lower emergency room usage, hospitalizations, and Medicaid costs.  In fact, patients seen at school-based health centers cost Medicaid an average of $30.40 less than comparable, non-school-based health center patients.

The Fierce Competition for These Construction/Renovation Grant Funds Demonstrates The Enormous Need for These Funds.  To date, some 350 applicants in 46 states and the District of Columbia are seeking funding through the first round of competitive grants to be awarded under the school-based health center construction/renovation program.  The vast majority of these projects are “shovel ready.”  All of these applicants are eager to carry on with the good and important work for which SBHCs have become well known and greatly appreciated.