SBHC Affiliates Create 18-Month Action Plan

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In February 2015, the School-Based Health Alliance (SBHA) convened leaders from 16 state affiliate organizations in Washington, DC to create an 18-month joint affiliate-national action plan to drive SBHC development across the country. The Oregon School-Based Health Alliance participated in the meeting along with West Coast partners from California and Washington.

While visiting, state leaders conducted more than 60 hill visits with their members of congress and participated in a hill briefing to explore pressing SBHC issues. Several key themes and policy opportunities emerged from the visits.  
  • Appropriations: State leaders found interest from hill staff for submitting appropriations report language that might include directives that require or encourage departments or agencies to take a specific action or refrain from taking a certain action. SBHA committed to submitting report language for consideration.
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization: The importance of improving student health to support academic achievement was a common theme in hill visits. Not surprisingly, different hill contacts handle health and education issues, so linking SBHCs to the ESEA Reauthorization was complicated by separated staff roles.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Funding for CHIP expires September 30, 2015 and state leaders discussed the importance of CHIP as a critical source of coverage for the SBHC population.
  • Mental Health: Mental health remained a common theme during hill visits in the context of various bills. Senator Stabenow (D-MI) secured $900 million through her “Excellence in Mental Health Act” bill, which states can apply for to expand community mental health services. Senators Murphy (D-CT) and Cassidy (R-LA) are in the process of drafting a comprehensive mental health bill and are soliciting input on how SBHCs can be incorporated.
SBHA also honored two SBHC advocates. Senator Stabenow (D-MI) received the National SBHC Champion Award, and Sue Catchings (Chief Executive Officer of Heath Centers in Schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Looking ahead, state leaders identified four activities for the 2015-2016 Action Plan.
  1. Establish and collect common SBHC measures. In order to tell the SBHC story to policymakers and other stakeholders, and demonstrate the SBHC impact on health and academic outcomes, the field needs to need to establish uniform measures for SBHCs across the country and establish a process for collecting data.
  2. Develop a national position on the use of telehealth in schools. Telehealth is a health care delivery trend that needs to be better understood, especially as it is applied in school settings to address health disparities. State leaders will participate in a workgroup to determine appropriate use of telehealth as an effective, sustainable, and complementary approach to delivering care in schools.
  3. Publish the national SBHC definition. The School-Based Health Alliance will publish its SBHC definition by June 2015.
  4. Create a more effective way of sharing information. State leaders recommended creating a communications platform to share language, themes, and resources that can be adapted for state and local conditions. 
These themes and activities are relevant in Oregon as well, particularly as OSBHA works to pass bills during the current legislative session supporting SBHC expansion and infrastructure, link health and education reform efforts to maximize community-level outcomes, better position the SBHC as a crucial resource for students, families, schools and communities, and support mental health expansion.

In Oregon, the SBHC model has a 30-year history, and OSBHA has been driving the SBHC narrative for a significant portion of that time. We’re excited to support the development and expansion of SBHCs in the state and feel the connection to state affiliates and our national partner strengthens our work and our ability to support Oregon communities.

Stay tuned for an exciting year and opportunities to participate as an SBHC supporter!