CNN

The Biden administration on Thursday unveiled a new plan to make mental and physical health services more accessible in schools for millions of children.

The announcement will have particular impact on the tens of millions of children who receive health care through Medicaid, but the new guidance says schools will use Medicaid dollars to hire additional school counselors, nurses and social workers. All school-aged children will benefit from the changes because it is clear that they can. A worker who can handle every student. More than half of children in public schools receive health care through Medicaid and CHIP programs.

While the guidance applies to physical and mental health, the Biden administration has emphasized how this can help children’s mental health.

“Mental health is at stake in our country, especially among children, so the guidance we are releasing today encourages states to seek to expand access to mental health services for children. “And as part of that, we are reminding states of their mandate to cover mental health services,” Chiquita Brooks-Rashua, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told CNN. And we encourage states to work with schools to ensure that children have access to these services.”

Before the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 5 children had a mental disorder, yet only about 20% of those children received care from a mental health provider. was

According to the CDC, more than 44% of high school students say they are feeling persistent sadness or hopelessness in 2021.

That same year, the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with several other associations, declared child and adolescent mental health conditions a national emergency.

The guidance also clarifies a policy change first issued under the Obama administration in 2014, telling schools that Medicaid will pay for all types of medical expenses for all children enrolled in the program. Prior to that policy change, schools could only claim Medicaid for children enrolled in special education programs. Some states had to apply to the federal government to extend medical services to all children eligible for Medicaid, but only her 16 states did.

Guidance issued Thursday should encourage remaining states to expand access to this type of health care in schools and expand mental health services to children in general.

Brooks-LaSure said, “From our point of view, the Medicaid program gives schools confidence that they need and can afford to provide mental health and other services to children. I will.”

This new approach means that schools are guaranteed payments for front-line staff who provide medical and mental health services. This means that more children need improved access to preventive care, such as psychological assessments, vaccines, counseling and screening services to help them see and hear. increase. This money can also be used by children to administer medications or improve asthma care.

Prior to this new guidance, experts said some schools were reluctant to provide these services, fearing they would not receive reimbursement from Medicaid and would have to return the money from school budgets. It could have been a cost that most schools cannot afford.

“I think this addresses a lot of the questions, concerns and issues that go a long way in giving the state and school districts the confidence to move forward.” to allow access to

While students may have access to some health care at school today, the costs are often paid for by school districts and charities, Davis said.

“It’s not sustainable and it doesn’t allow for the comprehensive and coordinated care that is needed,” Davis said. You can build your program.”

“Expanding Medicaid funding for school health services is good for students. It’s good for schools. It’s good for public health,” added Davis.

The guidance issued today also clarifies that states cannot impose restrictions on mental health services provided to children. For example, states can no longer deny mental health services to children on Medicaid who have not received an official mental health diagnosis. Accessing mental health care, including prescription drugs, can be difficult, experts say.

“If I work with a young child, it may take me some time to determine what the diagnosis is. No need to wait, but there were administrative barriers.” American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Healthy Mental and Emotional Development. “This is a great first step.”

Earls has seen what removing administrative barriers can do in her own state of North Carolina. She worked closely with her director of state Medicaid to remove the same administrative barriers and improve access to care for children almost immediately.

“It was big. It was big,” said Earls. “And that really led to the ability of my state’s[pediatric]clinic to start integrating mental health professionals into the clinic.” It is now possible to practice caring for your physical and mental health.

“This makes early identification and support much easier,” says Earls. You can keep a child in crisis out of the emergency room by proactively addressing mental health issues.

Davis believes today’s Biden administration announcement could make a big difference in improving the physical and mental health of this generation of students.

“I think it’s transformative,” she added. “In conclusion, this is good for students. It’s good for schools and good for the public because it’s a very efficient use of federal resources.”



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