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CMS Awards $50 Million in School-Based Health Services for 20 States, Focusing on Mental Health Access

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Through investments made by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the grants will be awarded to 20 states of up to $2.5 million to support the implementation, improvement and expansion of school-based health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is providing $50 million in grants to help states give millions of children access to healthcare services, more particularly in mental health, at school.

Through investments made by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), the grants will be awarded to 20 states of up to $2.5 million to support the implementation, improvement and expansion of school-based health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said the funding will be “transformational” for states at any stage in developing school-based health services programs.

“Medicaid and CHIP cover over 39 million children,” Brooks-LaSure said. “This targeted support is one way CMS can help kids get the health care they need by meeting them where they are — in school.”

In a joint letter addressed to governors by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona, it was stated that the grant opportunity is “the most recent step taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to support school-based mental health, as part of the implementation of the BSCA, and reflects a whole-of-government approach to meet families where they are and to ensure that children and youth have access to the health care they need.”

According to CMS, Medicaid and CHIP school-based health services provide a valuable opportunity to deliver healthcare to children, including preventive, behavioral and physical care, creating convenient access within the school setting. It’s been proven these services enhance children's health and educational outcomes.

In a release by CMS, 16 states — including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia —currently extend coverage for school-based health services to Medicaid- or CHIP-covered children beyond those with special education needs in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP).

CMS aims for more states to adopt this approach, encouraging states to use additional funding to enhance their programs for children and youth.

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