Health Care Reform:

School-Based Health Centers Can Promote Access to Care

HEHS-94-166: Published: May 13, 1994. Publicly Released: May 13, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on school-based health centers (SBHC), focusing on: (1) whether SBHC increase children's access to health services; (2) financial and other problems SBHC face in delivering services; and (3) the potential impact of federal health care reform on SBHC activities.

GAO found that: (1) SBHC can improve children's access to health care and help families overcome financial and nonfinancial barriers that limit access; (2) SBHC attempt to provide health services to families that lack health insurance or experience transportation difficulties, and address adolescents with special needs; (3) SBHC lack a stable source of funding, do not have sufficient resources for meeting their patients' health care needs, and have difficulty obtaining reimbursement from public and private insurers and recruiting and retaining appropriately trained staff; (4) SBHC ability to meet some adolescents' health needs has been constrained because of local debates over the appropriateness of providing reproductive health services; (5) federal health care reform could increase access to insurance coverage and alleviate some SBHC problems; and (6) reforms that promote managed care networks could exacerbate financing problems because of the networks' reluctance to reimburse SBHC.

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