Crains Health Pulse 4.3.18
April 03, 2018


School-based health centers recoup most budget cuts

The state budget for fiscal 2019 allocated $3.8 million to school-based health centers. The funding restored nearly all of the $4 million in cuts last year that had forced some clinics to consider shutting down.

The proposal was included in the final budget that passed Saturday, and the Assembly now must now decide how it will distribute the money.
There are 255 school-based health centers statewide, with 62% of the clinics located in New York City, according to the state Health Department. The clinics are an important provider of preventive, primary and oral health care in underserved neighborhoods, said Sarah Murphy, executive director of the New York School-Based Health Alliance.

Without the new funding, Murphy added, sponsors of the clinics would have had to consider reducing services or closing altogether. Last year, SUNY Downstate Medical Center said it planned to close four of its five school clinics after losing nearly 70% of its state support for the programs, but ultimately decided to keep the clinics open.

The state funding helps cover the cost of providing care to children without insurance and to those with insurance not accepted by the sponsoring organizations, said Dr. Viju Jacob, assistant vice president for medical regulatory, policy and external affairs at Urban Health Plan in the Bronx, which runs 11 school-based clinics. “The state funds really help to fill in the gaps,” said Jacob, who also chairs the alliance’s board.

Dr. David Appel, director of Montefiore Medical Center’s 26 school-based health centers in the Bronx, said the new funding will allow him to hire mental health providers to roles the system had left vacant amid reduced funding. Given the Medicaid savings that results from keeping kids healthy and out of the emergency room, cutting funding from the program was “penny wise and pound foolish,” he said. —J.L.