"The Biden administration must dramatically expand school-based health carE"
Updated: Jan 30
Original article written by By Mario Ramirez and Andrew Buher for The Hill
In this opinion article, Ramirez and Buher point to the fact that healthy students are better able to learn. However, too many children, including the 4.4 million who are uninsured, have difficulty accessing comprehensive, quality health care leading to long-term health problems. The pandemic has amplified the connection between health care and education and in order to minimize the long-term health and academic impacts of the pandemic on children, President-elect Biden must dramatically improve and expand access to school-based health care. According to the authors, "School-based health centers (SBHCs) create equity by meeting students where they spend a significant amount of their time; in school.Beyond providing critical primary care services, and often mental and behavioral care, centers reduce the practical burdens like scheduling, transportation and costs associated with private health care access that many low-income families struggle with." But as of 2020, only 11% of public schools nationwide provide access to centers, and only 40% have a full-time school nurse. With these limitations to in-school services, it will be even more difficult to get students back on track academically not to mention the overwhelming need for new health services such as catching students up on immunizations and treating the rising rates of anxiety and depression.
The article also outlines ways that the Biden administration can aid schools in their efforts to provide health and wellness resources to students. The first is to provide states with the resources and technical assistance to launch public-awareness campaigns that focus on childhood health and wellbeing and provide families with information to access qualified service providers in their community. Second, the administration should close the existing childhood insurance gap by creating new incentives to encourage insurance companies to enroll low-income families in Medicaid and removing the administrative barriers that prevent families from enrolling their children. Third, there should be an effort to increase school-based health care by doubling the number of SBHCs and community schools and expanding infrastructure for telemedicine in schools. As a final note, the authors state, "Research demonstrates that healthy children are likely to be more successful adults. At this critical juncture in our children’s lives, it’s time to put this evidence to work by expanding and improving school-based health care."
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