ObamaCare Coming to a Public School Near You

While many Americans are waiting to hear the Supreme Court’s ruling on ObamaCare, the Department of Health and Human Services, under Kathleen Sebelius, is operating under the philosophy that if it can roll out as much of the overreaching health law as possible before the high court’s decision,  many Americans will become addicted to it and not want to live without it. In that case, the Supreme Court, if it rules that the law is unconstitutional, and the Republicans, simply because they say they want to repeal the law, will look like big meanies when the law is eradicated. This is the Democrats’ election year strategy at a time when the president’s signature health care law is on the chopping block.

For those whose attention has been diverted away from ObamaCare of late, recall that a main outcome of the law is that private health care insurance will be so expensive that employers will no longer be able to afford to offer benefits to employees. In addition, the cost for individual private health care insurance will be even more prohibitive than it is now. So, how will everyone receive health care?

Well, in addition to the health care “exchanges” in the states, ObamaCare has provided for health care centers to be built and run right out of your neighborhood public schools. The Obama administration is rolling out its plans to pour the millions of dollars the Democrats in Congress allocated to the law into “school-based health centers.” The law includes funds to build and run clinics to give students free diagnoses, treatment for chronic medical conditions and mental health screenings.

On Wednesday, Kathleen Sebelius announced that another $75 million in taxpayer funds is “available” to build health clinics in schools. $200 million was appropriated by Congressional Democrats for the School-Based Health Center Capital Program, and the current $75 million is the third in a series of grants available to these school-based health centers. In a news release, the secretary said:

President Obama’s health care law is helping keep kids healthy and as a mother, I know how important a child’s health is to how they do in school.  Whether establishing a new site or upgrading an existing facility, the availability of funding for school-based health centers that we’re announcing today will help kids more easily get the health services they need to thrive. The goal is to keep our children healthy so they can learn, grow and prosper.

Of course, the federal government always needs policy recommendations for how to implement its programs, so Secretary Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have enlisted the assistance of two health advocacy organizations, the Healthy Schools Campaign and the Trust for America’s Health, to tell you how to incorporate a school-based health center into your public school. Just think of the Healthy Schools Campaign and the Trust for America’s Health as the Institute of Medicine for education-based programs.

Needless to say, the policy recommendations from these two groups are centered around a vision of the federal government having a greater role in making health a part of the academic curriculum. The Healthy Schools Campaign says that, from now on, “wellness is not relegated to an occasional health lesson or physical education class—it is part of math, science, lunch and everything in between. It means providing teachers with professional development related to children’s physical and emotional development, and integrating health into every subject, reward system and classroom management strategy.”

That sounds kind of overreaching to me.

The Healthy Schools Campaign is quick to note that achieving its goals will require commitment at many different levels, “from classrooms to Washington, D.C.”

Some of the “recommendations” are special causes for concern where privacy is concerned. Here are just a couple of them:

Train principals and teachers to promote student health and wellness and to identify and address student health issues.

Why do we want principals and teachers “identifying” and “addressing” student health issues? Aren’t those issues the domain of the doctor-patient/parent relationship? Oh, that’s right. If families no longer have private health insurance, then children will be seen at the “school-based health center.” In fact, your child may not even need to see a real doctor if teachers have already “identified” your child's problem and figured out how to "address" it. I guess some people might think that's a good thing, especially if it takes months to get in to see a real doctor under full-blown ObamaCare.

Schools should track health and wellness data, which would be used to make “data-driven decisions” about how health and wellness impact student learning.

Why do we want our schools “tracking” our children’s health data? What happens if your child doesn’t “fit in” with the “recommendations?” Are student’s grades going to be impacted by failure to meet health “recommendations?” Could it be suggested that some parents are not meeting their parental responsibilities because their children are overweight, or not doing the required number of jumping jacks, or seem uncomfortable with the curriculum on healthy homosexual relationships?

Regarding their “recommendations,” Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, says, “[T]hese recommendations represent a major culture shift in how the nation views health – health will no longer be separated from education, transportation, housing and other clearly connected policies.”

Don't look now, but it sounds like there will be a lot of mandates involved in "school-based health centers."

As we might expect, the teachers’ unions are totally behind “school-based health centers.” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “The link between student health and student achievement is not theoretical—it is a fact. Yes, there are many educational and academic issues that we need to address. But making schools better also means that we must create environments that provide steady support for health and good nutrition.”

And we haven't pumped enough federal taxpayer money into public education, with little to show for it?

National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel is also looking forward to school-based health centers. “Our members work with students every day whose health and school conditions impede their ability to learn,” he said. “That’s why NEA members are taking the lead to advocate for school and learning conditions that result in a higher level of student engagement and fewer absences."

Through the efforts of the Obama administration, teachers unions are hoping to own even more of our children. Even if you think ObamaCare's "school-based health centers" sound like a "caring" idea, the fact is that, if implemented, they will give teachers and schools the power to decide if your child has medical or psychological problems, and what to do about it. Just as with "school lunch monitors," the role and the authority of parents will be diminished. If your child’s academic performance doesn’t improve because of the school’s “health” interventions and behavior management strategies, how will that affect how he or she is treated within the classroom and the educational setting?

If you thought No Child Left Behind was too much government intervention in education, wait until you get a load of “School-Based Health Centers.”


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