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Letter to the House on Health Care

May 02, 2011

Dear Representative:


On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our opposition to two bills scheduled for floor consideration this week that would strike mandatory funding for critical programs enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act.  Specifically, we urge you to VOTE NO on H.R. 1214, which would strike funding to construct school-based health clinics and on H.R. 1213, which would strike funding for grants to help states set up health insurance exchanges.  Votes associated with these issues may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 112th Congress.

School-Based Health Clinics:  NEA strongly opposes H.R. 1214, which would strike funding for a one-time series of grants for construction, renovation, and equipment for school-based health centers (SBHCs).  Often, schools send a sick child home—with no guarantee of whether the student will ever make the trip to see a healthcare professional.  But with an increasing number of full-service healthcare clinics being established on school grounds, teachers and administrators now have a better alternative.  More than 1,900 SBHCs across the country provide access for nearly two million students to a range of primary, mental, and oral health care services.  They offer timely treatment to students who lack insurance and/or whose parents are unable to take time off from work to take the child to a doctor.  They keep children from missing school because of minor ailments.  And, they ensure that the children’s healthcare needs are taken care of before they become full-blown illnesses. 
 
SBHC services are provided regardless of students’ ability to pay in a location that meets children and adolescents where they are: at school.  They are often the only source of health care for many children and adolescents who would otherwise go without needed services.  No other source of federal funding uniquely supports SBHCs, even though government studies have demonstrated that the model is a critical and cost-effective part of our nation’s health care safety net for children and adolescents.

NEA members across the country see first-hand every day the importance of access to health care for children’s success in school.  Students simply cannot learn unless they come to school healthy.  Families with access to regular medical care are more likely to keep the entire family healthy and create a better learning environment within the home.

More than 350 applicants from around the nation are seeking funding through the first round of competitive grants created under Affordable Care Act — demonstrating the high level of interest in and need for this funding.  These applications came from all regions of the country, representing rural, urban, and suburban constituencies.  The funding at risk under H.R. 1214 will fund construction, renovation, and equipment.  In addition to the benefits for student health, these grants are good for local businesses, as more money will go to construction jobs, renovation supplies, and equipment such as exam tables and blood pressure monitors. 

Health Insurance Exchanges:    Health insurance exchanges are new organizations that will be set up to create a more organized and competitive market for buying health insurance.  They will offer a choice of different health plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options.  Health insurance exchanges are a critical element of the health reform law, aimed at helping individuals and families shop for and purchase health insurance on their own with additional assistance for lower-income individuals and families.

A competitive health insurance marketplace will help to reduce health care costs for consumers, employers and the government.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2019 the exchanges would provide health insurance to nearly 30 million people who were previously without or lost their coverage.  The exchanges will protect consumers, give them greater control, more choice, and improve quality.  Exchanges will help to level the playing field and bring real competition and greater transparency to the insurance marketplace.  

Again, we strongly urge you to VOTE NO on both H.R. 1213 and H.R. 1214.  Thank you. 

Sincerely,

Kim Anderson         
Director of Government Relations

Mary Kusler
Manager of Federal Advocacy