Bill Progresses in the Legislature to Increase School-based Health Services for Florida Students

Schoolkids.jpgIn the fifth week of 2020 Florida Legislative Session, House and Senate continue to move quickly on the budget and a bit more slowly on the passage of bills. Each year, United Way of Florida (UWOF) creates their stateside Public Policy agenda which supports legislation in the areas of health, quality education and financial stability.  In particular, the UWOF network has heavily prioritized legislation that would expand Floridian’s access to healthcare services and significantly reduce barriers in obtaining mental health care. The benefits of providing health care services to students are well documented. Healthier students mean increased school participation, reduced health disparities and increased attention on studies and performance. Schools are an ideal location to offer health care services since students must be present on a regular basis. If parents are unable to take time off of work or have difficulty with transportation due to financial constraints, increasing access to services where students are already at, only serves to remove barriers to care.  

If legislators continue to move push this bill forward, which will align state statue language with federal, local school districts would be able to draw down $50.7 million in federal dollars, according to the non-partisan entity, Florida Policy Institute (FPI). Additionally, the funds from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Health Safety Act would be eligible to use as a match. FPI estimates that the Broward County alone is eligible to receive $3,888,125 just in mental health dollars for their Medicaid eligible students.
SB 190-Medicaid School-based Services by Senator Montford (D; Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla) passed unanimously on Tuesday in Health Policy. If passed, along with its companion, HB 81 by Representative Andrade (R; Escambia, Santa Rosa), students who are eligible for Medicaid would have access to medical and mental health services, physical and occupational therapy for children with disabilities, dental services, glasses or hearing aids, vaccines, and one-on-one aides for home or school.

The proposed legislation would take effect on July 1, 2020.  

To learn more about United Way of Broward County’s Health Initiatives click here