Bill makes it easier to fund school-based health centers

school baseed health centersThe Assembly this week passed a bill creating a voluntary income tax check-off box to fund the 231 school based health centers in districts across New York state.

Funds donated by New Yorkers would be deposited in a “school-based health centers fund” under control of the state comptroller. The state Department of Health, which oversees the program, would be able to use the fund to expand medical services at existing school based health centers or establish new ones.

“As tax season approaches we are reminded of the value of check-off boxes for donations to important issues like our children’s health,” said Assembly bill sponsor Felix Ortiz, D-Brooklyn. “Every dollar counts.  These centers are a family’s best defense against costly hospitalization and a source of vital health services for our children in high-need areas.”

The bill (A.4913-a) is expected to generate $2 million for the health centers, which provide preventive services for such chronic conditions as epileptic seizures, asthma, diabetes, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, nutritional deficiencies, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

Mental health services offered at some of these clinics have produced significant declines in depression and improvements in wellness, Ortiz says.

According to the Department of Health, 185 of the state’s 231 school-based health centers are located in urban areas, two are located in downstate suburban areas, two are located in upstate suburban areas, seven are located in upstate small cities, and 35 are located in rural areas.

The school-based health centers serve more than 160,000 students

The Senate bill (S.917-a) is sponsored by Velmanette Montgomery and resides in the Investigations and Government Operations Committee.