Today, over 600 students, parents, health advocates and CAS representatives are in Albany, lobbying for a funding solution as part of the New York State Coalition for School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs). Since 1995, Medicaid has reimbursed costs from the SBHCs on a fee-for-service basis, but this system is set to expire on October 1, 2014, and a planned redesign to Medicaid will replace the current system with a managed care system. Under managed care, SBHCs will be required to negotiate directly with health care plans for inclusion in their networks and for rates of reimbursement, causing an estimated budget reduction of $16.2 million—a nearly 50% loss and about one-quarter of the $63.3 million budget for the centers.
There are currently 227 SBHCs operating in New York State. These centered are patient-focused medical clinics in schools, operated by Children’s Aid and many other organizations, providing medical and dental care, mental health counseling and health education services to over 200,000 children living in poverty. The benefits of these centers are many; they provide high quality healthcare to those who otherwise would not have access to any medical services, and are effective at reducing ER costs by providing on-site crisis care. The centers also keep children in school who would otherwise be absent due to medical needs, and increase student immunization rates.
The coalition members are asking that the October 1 deadline be delayed to ensure that the network of SBHCs spread across New York be preserved.
This day of advocacy, in addition to fighting for a funding solution, will also honor a key player in the field of SBHCs. Beverly Colon, the Vice President of Children’s Aid’s Health and Wellness Division, is being presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the coalition for her many contributions over the years. Congratulations, Beverly!