March 3, 2024

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$50 million in CMS grants to go to healthcare access for school children

3 min read

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will be doling out $50 million in grants for states to connect millions more children to healthcare services, particularly for mental health, at school.

Drawing from investments in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the grants will provide 20 states up to $2.5 million each in funding that can help states implement and expand the use of school-based health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“Providing quality, affordable healthcare requires meeting people where they’re at, and for children that often means school,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, today’s new funding will help states to expand and leverage Medicaid health care services in schools.”

Along with the $50 million in grants, Becerra and U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona issued a joint letter to governors emphasizing that this grant funding “will make it easier for states to support schools in providing critical healthcare services, especially mental health services, for millions of students across the nation.”

HHS touted the benefit of Medicaid school-based health services, including convenience and a track record of improving educational outcomes.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT

Currently, 16 states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia – cover school-based health services provided to Medicaid- or CHIP-covered children beyond those with special education needs reflected in an Individualized Education Program or an Individual Family Service Plan.

CMS not only hopes more states will follow suit, but also that early adopters will leverage the additional funding to further enhance their programs.

The agency anticipates a total of 20 grant awards, with a minimum of 10 awards to states that have yet to cover school-based health services for all children covered by Medicaid or CHIP. Additionally, up to 10 grants are intended for states that have taken initial steps to expand school-based health services, with the hope that these grants will enhance or refine their existing programs.

n 2022 and 2023, Becerra and Cardona issued two letters to states, as well as a comprehensive toolkit to governors, encouraging them to optimize federal resources, especially through Medicaid and CHIP, to expand school-based health services. And last year, CMS released a comprehensive claiming guide for school-based health services to make it easier for schools to provide and receive payment for healthcare services in Medicaid and CHIP, and also launched a new school-based health services Technical Assistance Center in partnership with ED.

THE LARGER TREND

The work builds on more than $55 million from HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration to expand school-based health services and centers, as well as work through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Project Aware program in schools.

Applications for the grant will be due by March 25, with funding anticipated by this summer.
 

Jeff Lagasse is editor of Healthcare Finance News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare Finance News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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