Measure to fund school-based health centers receives broad public support
January 18, 2018
AUGUSTA – Maine’s 16 school-based health clinics will once again receive state funding if a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Handy, D-Lewiston becomes law.
“These clinics provide a vital service to the kids in their communities,” said Handy. “I am going to fight to make sure we reverse this cut. Balancing a budget on the backs of our kids is not acceptable.”
Last year’s biennial budget included $10 million in cuts to the Fund for a Healthy Maine. The bulk of funding for Maine’s school-based health clinics was provided through the Fund for a Healthy Maine as well as federal matching dollars through the Maternal Child Health Services Block Grant. As a result of those cuts, the Department of Health and Human Services notified the clinics that they would lose Fund for a Healthy Maine funding. The loss of state dollars also eliminated the matching block grant funds.
Handy’s bill, LD 1710, “An Act To Restore Maine's School-based Health Centers,” seeks to restore state funding to the clinics, which would also restore their eligibility for federal block grant funds.
Several legislators and members of the public offered testimony in support of school based health centers at a public hearing for the bill Thursday.
“School-based health centers provide young people with critical services during important developmental years. They are cost-effective programs with a proven track record of success,” said Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, who also submitted legislation to reinstate funding for SBHCs. “Restoring funding for school-based health centers is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.”
The Health and Human Services Committee will hold a work session on Handy’s bill in the coming days.
Lindsay Crete [Herbig], c. 231-1442