While many students are covered by MaineCare or private insurance, the state funding largely supported uncompensated care.
AUGUSTA — Several leaders of rural schools in Maine have called for lawmakers to restore funding for centers where students can receive services ranging from mental health counseling to routine physicals.
Health centers at schools that got especially hit by the funding cut in the $7.1 billion, two-year budget include the small community of Calais on the U.S.-Canadian border.
Kids don’t tend to see a doctor regularly, and may do so only if they become ill, Handy said.
“They had to scale back services drastically,” Shaler said. “They’re all still open, but they’re not open as long, and they’re not able to do what they did prior to the cuts.”
The funding for the programs was cut because of a budget deal requiring the department to eliminate millions of dollars in funding.
The cuts killed $191,000 out of a $330,000 budget for four health centers in more-populous Portland, which The Portland Press Herald reported is making up the gap with fundraising, efficiencies and an extra $2.7 million in education funding provided by the budget.
Handy’s bill is set for a hearing Thursday.
Many working families who don’t qualify for Medicaid can’t afford the co-pays and deductibles they now face, said Joan Churchill, chief executive officer of Community Clinical Services in Lewiston, whose school health centers are down to providing medical services three days a week. “We have a lot of students that we’re not able to help,” she said.