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Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce New Legislation to Help Improve Health Care Services for Children in Schools

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, yesterday introduced the Hallways to Health Act (S.2590) to help school-based health centers improve health care services for children. In Michigan, there are more than 120 school-based health centers that play a major role in providing basic health services for thousands of students who have limited access to medical care outside of school. Typically, a school-based health center provides a combination of primary care, mental health care, substance abuse counseling, case management, dental health, nutrition education, health education and health promotion activities. Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The Hallways to Health Act will improve access to quality health care services and healthy behaviors education for students in Michigan,” said Senator Peters. “Better connecting school-based health centers with skilled professionals who offer timely, specialized treatment will not only enhance wellness but boost educational outcomes as well.”

“Too many children across our state do not have access to a family doctor and depend on basic health care services during the school day,” said Senator Stabenow. “The Hallways to Health Act will help school-based health centers with new resources to strengthen and improve health care services for children in need of care.”

“School-Based Health Centers help ensure that all children have access to health and mental health care services,” Congresswoman Capps said. “As a school nurse, I have seen firsthand the link between health status and educational outcomes. School-based health centers are an important tool to keep kids healthy, in the classroom, and learning. These centers are often the only access students have to vital health services and they help ensure students get the care they need when they need it.”

“We are very excited that Senators Stabenow and Peters are introducing the Hallways to Health bill that will increase access to integrated health care service for children and youth,” said John Bindas, CEO of the School Community Health Alliance of Michigan. “We especially appreciate Senator Stabenow’s leadership and vision related to ensuring increased access to health care services including mental health. Michigan is a leader in the school health movement and is committed to ensuring every child in Michigan receives quality health care and support services.”

“With the introduction of Hallways to Health Act, Congress is taking a monumental step towards increasing access to primary care and mental health services for our nation’s most vulnerable children and adolescents, and securing the status of school-based health centers as an essential component of our health care safety net,” said John Schlitt, President of the School-Based Health Alliance.

The Hallways to Health Act will provide grants for school-based health centers that partner with community health care workers who can coordinate care and services in the community for families. The legislation will also create a demonstration project to provide telehealth services at centers and expand existing telehealth services in medically underserved areas. Finally, the bill will ensure school-based health centers can be reimbursed for covered services under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program at the same level as services provided in a physician’s office or outpatient clinic.

Senator Stabenow championed the School-Based Health Center Capital Program as part of the Affordable Care Act to help centers access critical funding for construction, renovation and equipment needs. The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the School-Based Health Center Capital Program.