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Bill to Reauthorize the School-Based Health Centers Program Introduced

By Giuliana Berry, Federal Policy Intern

On July 9, 2013, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA-24) introduced The School-Based Health Centers Program Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 2632), legislation that would provide continued federal support for comprehensive health care, mental health care, and social services in school-based health centers (SBHCs) across the country.[1]

SBHCs are health clinics located in schools that provide comprehensive healthcare including primary medical care, mental and behavioral health care, health education, as well as access to sexual health care.[2] There are over 2,000 SBHCs serving over 2 million young people in the U.S.[3]  Linda Juszczak, president of the School-Based Health Alliance, refers to the clinics as “a critical health care access point for underserved students across the nation.”[4]

SBHCs are effective at providing reproductive health care to young people because they provide services where young people are –in schools. This means that young people’s access to health care is not inhibited by cost, lack of confidentiality, or lack of access to transportation. Over 60% of SBHCs offer gynecological care, 68% diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases, 80% offer pregnancy tests, and 38% dispense contraception.[5] Sexually active females who access SBHCs are more likely to use hormonal contraceptives and to receive specific care than those who do not access SBHCs.[6]    

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed in 2010, provides $200 million in funding from 2010 through 2013 to improve and expand SBHCs’ delivery and service, through its School-Based Health Center Capital Program.[7]  The ACA expires in 2014, so there is currently no authorization of federal funding to support SBHCs in fiscal year 2014.[8] If passed, H.R. 2632 will extend authorization of federal funding of SBHCs for another five years.[9]

After the passage of the ACA, congressional Republican opposition to the health care reform bill included the targeting of specific provisions, including the SBHC Capital Program. Representative Michael Burgess (R-TX-26) introduced the To Repeal Mandatory Funding for School-based Health Center Construction (H.R. 1214) in the 112th Congress in an attempt to repeal all funding for SBHCs provided by the ACA. H.R. 1214 passed the House, but failed in the Senate.[10]

Representative Capps, a long-time champion for SBHCs, defended the SBHC Capital Program by stating, “Research…backs up the importance of these centers, as they have been shown to reduce obstacles to learning by helping to reduce student absences and identify students at risk for health and behavioral problems.”[11] Upon the introduction of H.R. 2632, Capps reiterated her support for SBHCs, “School-Based Health Centers are a common sense way to keep our students healthy and learning and are often the only source of comprehensive health care for many students. We should be expanding these services, not cutting them.”[12] For the nearly 5 million uninsured children in America, SBHCs may be their only access to affordable health care.              

Currently, the bill has 22 Democratic co-sponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.[13]


[1]Congresswoman Lois Capps, “Capps Introduces Legislation to Improve Children’s Access to Health Care,” Press Release published July 9, 2013, accessed July 10, 2013, http://capps.house.gov/press-release/capps-introduces-legislation-improve-children%E2%80%99s-access-health-care.

[2]“School-Based Health Centers,” Health Resources and Services Administration, accessed July 11, 2013, http://www.hrsa.gov/ourstories/schoolhealthcenters/.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Congresswoman Lois Capps, “Capps Introduces Legislation to Improve Children’s Access to Health Care.”

[5]Jan Strozer, Linda Juszczak, and Adrienne Ammerman, School-Based Health Organizations: National Census School Year 2007-2008, National Assembly on School Based Healthcare, (2010): 5.

[6]K.A. Ethier et al., “School-based Health Center Access, Reproductive Health Care, and Contraceptive Use Among Sexually Experienced High School Students,” Journal of Adolescent Health 48.6 (June 2011) accessed July 16, 2013, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21575814.

[7]“The Affordable Care Act and the School-Based Health Center Capital Program,” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, (December 8, 2011), accessed July 16, 2013, http://www.hhs.gov/aca/health-centers/sbhc.html.

[8]Congressional Budget Justification FY 2014, Health Resources and Services Administration,(April 2013): 57, accessed July 17, 2013, http://www.hrsa.gov/about/budget/budgetjustification2014.pdf.

[9]“H.R. 2632--113th Congress: School-based Health Centers Program Reauthorization Act of 2013,” www.GovTrack.us, (2013), accessed July 16, 2013, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2632.

[10]“H.R. 1214--112th Congress: To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction,” www.GovTrack.us, (2011), accessed July 17, 2013, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr1214.

[11]Representative Lois Capps, “We Must Stop the Republican Attempt to Reduce Our Kids' Access to Health Care,” Huffington Post, (March 8, 2011), accessed July 17, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-lois-capps/we-must-stop-the-republic_b_832830.html.

[12]Congresswoman Lois Capps, “Capps Introduces Legislation to Improve Children’s Access to Health Care.”

[13]“H.R. 2632--113th Congress: School-based Health Centers Program Reauthorization Act of 2013.”

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