Getting kids to the doctor's office for all the necessary check-ups and vaccinations is a burden on many parents - especially for those without flexible employment. And now health centers meant to alleviate the stress may be in danger of closing. Health Reporter Erin Billups has the details.
School-Based Health Centers are clinics located in public schools aimed at keeping kids healthy and present for class.
"We have five centers, we saw almost 25,000 visits in the last year. So that's 25,000 visits, that kids would either be missing school for, parents would be missing work or they would just not be going to their follow up visits," says Ashley Gyura, a pediatric nurse practitioner and site supervisor at the Children's Aid Society Student Wellness Center.
There are 244 schools in the state with these clinics - 148 of them are in the city, run by non profit organizations like the Children's Aid Society.
They offer medical, vision, dental, and mental health care to students. Doctors and nurses write prescriptions and sometimes even supply medications for free.
"They give me what I need when I get injured and when I need to talk to somebody," says Samuel Disla, a ninth grader.
But supporters of these centers like The Children's Defense Fund are worried changes to Medicaid will overburden these clinics, leading to closures.
On average, 54 percent of their revenue comes from Medicaid reimbursements.
"It's just the paperwork and what goes behind it that can be a little daunting especially for a school based health center that is financially trying to remain stable," says Kimberley Chin, Deputy Director of the New York Children's Defense Fund.
State Medicaid and Medicare have been shifting to a managed care model - with the government paying an annual lump sum for each patient...moving away from paying for each service performed.
By July 2017 these school clinics will have to do the same.
"It's not just the Medicaid state office anymore, you're working with a lot of different managed care organizations," says Chin.
The state has been holding workshops with clinic operators and others involved with this care to figure out how to best adapt to the changes.
Advocates fear that any clinic closures will hurt the most vulnerable - children who are uninsured or from low-income families.
"The health disparities that we're seeing can be reduced if we really get care to the kids who need it most. And it also improves educational outcomes which makes sense when you think young people are not missing school because they're sick," says Chin.