Another $2 million will be added to increase the number of school-based health centers when Gov. Ted Kulongoski submits his budget to the Legislature next year.
Kulongoski announced his "Healthy Kids Plan" while visiting Roosevelt High School to celebrate the 20th anniversary of school-based health centers in Oregon. The state's first health center was based at Roosevelt in 1986.
Kulongoski also released the 2006 School-Based Health Centers Status Report, which notes that 71 percent of the students who used the centers last year said that, without the centers, they wouldn't have received the health care they needed.
"When I served as Oregon's insurance commissioner, I learned an important lesson: Just because someone has health insurance doesn't necessarily mean they have access to health care," Kulongoski told a group of students, teachers and school and county health professionals.
"That's why school based health centers are so important to helping meet the health care needs of our children — those who have insurance and those who do not.
"The reason is simple: The centers operate where our kids are — in schools."
The report shows that the 45 school-based centers served nearly 18,000 students last year, logging more than 56,000 visits.
The governor's 2005-2007 budget expanded the program from 14 to 19 counties, which will increase the number of students served by more than 3,600.
"Nearly three-quarters of kids served by these centers would have gone without health care, which shows clearly why we must continue to invest in school-based health centers as part of my Healthy Kids Plan if we truly want to make sure all kids in Oregon have access to health care," Kulongoski added.
The Healthy Kids Plan will include an additional $2 million for school-based health centers in his next budget, the governor said, expanding the program to at least five more counties and helping existing counties expand the number of centers.
The Healthy Kids Plan, which would be funded through an increase in the cigarette tax, would provide affordable insurance options to children in families who earn too much money to qualify for state programs, but not enough to pay for private insurance (over 200 percent of the poverty level, or $37,700 for a family of four). It would also expand programs to enroll children from families who do qualify for state programs and help keep them enrolled.
For every state general fund dollar invested in the centers, communities leverage an additional $3 to $4 through local public-private partnerships to provide developmentally appropriate physical, emotional and preventive health care to students, regardless of their ability to pay.
The centers see children who otherwise would not get care and help students return to the classroom more quickly. The centers also reduce the demand on parents to take time off to transport their children to providers of health care, while keeping kids healthy so they can be better students.
On an average day, school-based health centers help:
• 81 students access physical health care;
• 147 students without insurance access care;
• 42 students access mental health care;
• 28 students receive immunizations; and
• 21 students receive preventive care.
For more information on the Healthy Kids Plan, visit http://governor.oregon.gov. To read the status report on school-based health centers, visit www.oregon.gov/DHS/ ph/ah/sbhc/sbhc.shtml.