A $50 Million Lifeline: CMS Grants Aim to Boost Child Healthcare in Schools

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced a series of grants amounting to $50 million. This financial boost is earmarked to deliver vital health services to school-aged children across the nation, a decision set to have substantial implications for the future of pediatric healthcare.

The grant system, enabled by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, offers each state the opportunity to secure up to $2.5 million in funding. The grants will assist up to 20 states in either initiating or widening the reach of their school-based health services for children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Seen as a game-changer, this allocation aims to bridge the gap between children and essential healthcare services—with a focus on mental health—directly through their schools. Schools have always presented a unique platform to provide healthcare services to children, particularly those enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. These services span across preventive and behavioral healthcare to physical care and are key in improving health and educational outcomes.

With 16 states already providing school-based health services to Medicaid- or CHIP-covered children, outside of those with special education needs, CMS anticipates that the funding will propel more states to follow suit and boost their existing programs. The funding is expected to make a significant impact on the development of state-level school-based health services programs.
Providing healthcare to more than 39 million children, Medicaid and CHIP are essential to the well-being of our nation’s children. Consequently, this funding is being hailed as one of the CMS’s most impactful measures to increase children’s access to healthcare.

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The importance of a strong, healthy partnership between state and federal government agencies is underscored by this funding announcement. In particular, the relationship between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is spotlighted as instrumental to driving accessibility to healthcare for children.

In a joint letter to governors, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and ED Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized that the grants would streamline the process for states to support schools in affording crucial healthcare services, especially mental health services, to students nationwide.

The call for applications for this ground-breaking funding is set for March 25, 2024, with the successful states receiving their funding by the following summer.

More than just a fiscal impetus, this initiative heralds a broader commitment from the Biden-Harris Administration to invest in young lives, ensuring children have the support they need to flourish in their communities. By making Medicaid health services more accessible in schools, the administration aims to meet children right where they are: in schools.

The introduction of this $50 million in grant funding from the CMS marks a pivotal step towards better healthcare access for children involved in Medicaid and CHIP. By reinforcing state-level efforts to provide school-based health services, this funding offers a chance to transform healthcare delivery for our nation’s youth. It can reshape the landscape of children’s healthcare services while strengthening the bond between state and federal government agencies.

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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