Pilot Program Incentivizes School Districts to Participate in Local Education Agency Billing Program
Sacramento, CA – AB 254 authored by Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) will ensure access to health and mental health services for all students. The bill passed the Assembly Health Committee this week.
“We cannot continue to allow children that suffer from health conditions to fall behind in school and slip between the cracks,” said Assemblymember Thurmond. “All students, regardless of economic circumstances, deserve an opportunity to pursue an education and get the healthcare they need to remain active in school. Providing school children with on-site access to healthcare and mental health services will lead to better attendance and academic performance outcomes for our students and schools.”
California has joined other states in reversing the “Free Care Rule.” The reversal frees up schools to seek reimbursement for services to all Medi-Cal students, while enhancing and expanding the role of school districts in the broader health delivery system.
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to move towards the “Whole Person Care” model. This model extends specifically to the unique needs of vulnerable populations facing significant barriers to access—specifically children and youth in Medi-Cal. These populations are more likely to experience a multitude of physical and behavioral health issues stemming from or amplified by psychosocial challenges such as food insecurity, abuse, or substance misuse in their household. Given this, school-based, school-linked, and community health providers must ensure access to health and mental health services. School settings present an important resource for the delivery of both physical and mental health.
AB 254 provides school districts the funding needed to expand services, both health and mental health. School-based health improves academic achievement, increases attendance, reduces dropout rates, improves behavior, and promotes parent engagement.
The California State PTA, California Alliance of Child and Family Services, and California School Nurses Association are in support of this bill.
Assemblymember Tony Thurmond represents the 15th Assembly District, comprised of the cities of Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hercules, Kensington, Piedmont, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, Tara Hills, and a portion of Oakland.