For Immediate Release Contact:
Tuesday, October 31, 2017 Sarah Murphy (518) 694-3423
Health and Education Leaders Urge Governor Cuomo to Sign Legislation to
Save School-Based Health Services for Children
October 31, 2017, Albany, N.Y. The New York School-Based Health Alliance, Greater New York Hospital Association, New York State United Teachers, the United Federation of Teachers, the New York State School Boards Association, and dozens of other health and education groups are calling on Governor Cuomo to sign legislation to pull the State’s 252 School-Based Health Centers back from a financial cliff.
School-Based Health Centers, or SBHCs, provide more than 200,000 students – mostly low-income, Black and Latino – with comprehensive primary and preventive medical care, reproductive health care, dental, vision, nutrition counseling, and mental health services on site in schools at no out-of-pocket cost.
The centers are threatened by a change in Albany that will alter the way they are paid to serve Medicaid patients. Next year, the State Health Department will stop making Medicaid payments directly to SBHCs. Instead they will disburse premium payments to Medicaid managed care health plans and eventually force SBHCs to negotiate contracts and reimbursement rates with those plans.
There is no guarantee that the premiums paid to health plans will cover the increasing needs of the children served by SBHCs. The new payment system creates costly administrative burdens and changes to the billing systems of hospitals and clinics who sponsor the centers.
Legislation sponsored by Senate Insurance Committee Chairman James Seward and Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard N. Gottfried requires the State to continue to pay SBHCs directly for Medicaid patients. Also known as a “Medicaid managed care carve-out,” it would assure that SBHCs have stable and adequate rates to continue to provide services to children and adolescents.
New York State Senator James Seward said: “As a longtime supporter of School-Based Health Centers, I want to ensure their continued availability as a means of low-cost, quality health care for thousands of New York students. The bi-partisan legislation that Assemblyman Gottfried and I advanced earlier this year will preserve access to health care for children at an affordable cost for families and the State. I urge the governor to sign the legislation and protect the long-term health of our School-Based Health Centers.”
“Forcing School-Based Health Centers into Medicaid managed care plans will wreck a model that works,” said Assembly Health Chair and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried. “School health centers increase access to primary and preventive health care and mental health services for children and adolescents. They make kids healthier and more attached to their school, save the Medicaid program money, promote healthier living, reduce adolescent pregnancy, improve school performance, and help reduce racial and ethnic disparities.”
New York State Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health said: “The Senate has for years fought to maintain the current funding mechanism for School-Based Health Centers. This legislation will provide much needed stability to these essential safety-net providers, ensuring they can remain viable. We eagerly await the Governor’s signature.”
Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz said: “I urge Governor Cuomo to approve legislation to continue paying SBHCs directly for Medicaid patients. School-Based Health Services for school-age children and youth in high need areas are the first line of defense against costly hospitalizations. They provide preventive services for chronic conditions including epileptic seizures, asthma, diabetes, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, nutritional deficiencies, and pelvic inflammatory disease.”
“We need to make long-term cost-effective decisions for our most vulnerable youth. These services would benefit our children and put them on a path to better health and better health care practices.”
Sarah Murphy, Executive Director of the York School-Based Health Alliance said: “State Health Department data confirms that SBHCs reach children who would otherwise go without care. They are a powerful tool for reducing racial and ethnic disparities and serve as safety-net providers for immigrants and children who are uninsured. At a time when the future of Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Affordable Care Act programs and the safety net itself are threatened, SBHCs will be needed even more.”
Brian Conway, Senior Vice President, Communications, Greater New York Hospital Association said: “GNYHA strongly supports permanently carving out SBHCs from Medicaid managed care. Many New York City hospitals provide urgently needed primary care services to underserved public-school students via SBHCs, and unless this bill becomes law, their administrative and financial burdens will become untenable.”
New York State’s 252 School-Based Health Centers play a vital role in protecting the health of more than 200,000 students in neighborhoods that don’t have primary, mental, dental or preventative services,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “School-Based Health clinics reduce the number of children suffering from complications of chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma. These clinics are a vital resource that we cannot afford to lose.”
“These clinics are improving our students’ lives,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. “Our students get preventative medical care, and so spend less time in emergency and hospital rooms. And when they miss less school, attendance and graduation rates rise. School-Based Health Centers work. We have to keep their doors open.”
Governor Cuomo lauded SBHCs in his 2010 Urban Agenda and pledged to work to “maximize the impact of SBHCs.” SBHCs are an unqualified success across the state, and they need Governor Cuomo’s support now more than ever before.
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