April 3, 2019

Florida Schools Could Draw Down More than $46 Million in Additional Federal Funding for Health Services Under Bill Moving in Florida House

HB 587 was approved yesterday in a unanimous vote by the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee

TALLAHASSEE – Florida schools could see millions in additional federal dollars for school-based health services — including mental health screenings, diagnoses and treatment — under HB 587/SB 290, according to the nonpartisan Florida Policy Institute.

More than one-third of the 2.7 million students enrolled in public schools are covered under Medicaid. Although recent federal policy changes allow schools to receive matching federal dollars for school-based health services provided to any Medicaid-eligible child, these changes are not automatic, as pointed out in a recent Institute report. Current state law — which limits the federal match to those services provided to children with disabilities who have an individualized education plan — must be updated.

“Students are better learners when they are healthy, and so ensuring that schools can provide Florida children with critical health care services could reduce absenteeism and help improve educational outcomes,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of the Institute. “School-based services are especially beneficial for low-income working families. These parents or caretakers often face barriers like a lack of transportation or inflexible work schedules, which make it hard to take their children to medical appointments.”

“The Medicaid school-based services bill (HB 587/SB 290) is common sense legislation allowing the state to take advantage of millions of dollars in federal matching funds we are currently not accessing to provide vital public health and mental health services to our schools,” said Rep. Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola), who introduced the bill in the Florida House. “We cannot afford to overlook any opportunity that benefits Florida’s children. It is my sincere hope that the Florida Senate starts moving on this legislation so that we do not lose another year of chances to improve the lives of Florida children.”

Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) is sponsor of the companion bill in the Florida Senate, which is awaiting its first committee hearing.

The legislation passed the House Health Market Reform Subcommittee last month, and the next stop is the Health and Human Services Committee.

“We applaud Representative Andrade and Senator Montford for championing this initiative,” added Knight.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

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