US Dept. of Health and Human Services announces US$50M in grants for states to connect more children to critical health care services, particularly for mental health, at school

Sample article from our Health Care Sector

January 24, 2024 (press release) –

Grants will help up to 20 states implement or expand school-based health services for children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced $50 million in grants for states to connect millions more children to critical health care services, particularly for mental health, at school. Made possible by the historic investments of 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, enhance, and expand the use of school-based health services through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

“Providing quality, affordable health care 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. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to invest in young people and their care so that they can thrive in their communities.”

“This funding will be transformational for states at any stage in developing school-based health services programs, which represent one of CMS’ most powerful tools for expanding access to care for our children,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Medicaid and CHIP cover over 39 million children. This targeted support is one way CMS can help kids get the health care they need by meeting them where they are — in school.”

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

Schools offer a unique opportunity to deliver health care services to children and youth, especially for the millions enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. From preventive and behavioral health care to physical care, among other benefits, Medicaid school-based health services offer families convenient care from trusted partners right where children learn and grow. Such services also have a track record for advancing children’s health and improving educational outcomes.

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 (IEP) or an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). With today’s announcement, CMS not only hopes more states will follow suit, but also that early adopters will leverage the additional funding to further enhance their programs to better meet the needs of children and youth.

CMS 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. Funding remains a critical need in these states as they work to build additional partnerships and coordination between state Medicaid and education agencies to improve the quality and delivery of care. 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.

Partnerships across state and federal government, including between HHS and ED, have been key to making health care coverage more accessible for children while also narrowing disparities and building a reliable system of supports. In 2022 and 2023, for example, Secretaries Becerra and Cardona issued two letters to states (available here and here), as well as a comprehensive toolkit to governors - PDF, encouraging them to optimize federal resources, especially through Medicaid and CHIP, to expand school-based health services. Last year, CMS released a comprehensive claiming guide - PDF for school-based health services to make it easier for schools to provide and receive payment for health care services delivered to millions of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, and also launched a new school-based health services Technical Assistance Center in partnership with ED.

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

Applications for the grant will be due by March 25, 2024, with funding anticipated by this summer. Visit Grants.gov for more information.

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Dan Rivard
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