Few Indiana schools have health clinics to meet the needs of their students on campus, but Sen. Andy Zay said the companies have no operating policies or requirements for parent involvement — something his bill proposal would fix.
Only 48 of the state’s estimated 1,770 schools have school-based health clinics, but without regulations, no two clinics are alike. Zay, R-Huntington, introduced a bill Wednesday before the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee, which would not require schools to operate such a clinic but would set requirements for schools that have such a clinic.
“Schools are a great touchpoint … to see things that we might not even see as parents,” Zay said. “But the parents have to be part of the process.”
According to the bill, school-based health clinics would need to educate parents “every step of the way,” beyond the regular duties of a school nurse. It also requires health clinics to operate as a separate legal entity, which Zay said would keep health records separate from school records.
Zay tied the bill with recommendations from the Governor’s Health Commissionwhich explicitly called for the expansion of school-based health centers.
Senators did not vote on Wednesday. The testimonies included some confusion as to why an insurance committee and not a health or education committee was hearing the bill. Although not specifically addressed, the bill allows schools to bill for Medicaid for certain health clinic services.
The Indiana Optometric Association said it was neutral on the overall bill, but noted that parents must “sign up” for school-based vision testing, which it says is not good policy and would harm students.
The Indiana School Board Association also said neutrally that the legislation was confusingly worded, noting that the use of “shall” instead of “may” in various places in the bill obscured the requirements for schools.
“The way it reads to us is (like) an assignment; We want to provide vital services to the students and ensure the school nurse can continue to provide those necessary services,” said Terry Spradlin, the group’s chief executive.
In particular, he noted that the bill did not specify whether a school nurse at one of the health clinics could administer emergency medication, such as inhalers or epipens, without parental consent.
Another group, Stand for Medical Freedom, commended the bill for parent involvement but called for further action to ensure parents can be physically at the clinic and make fully informed decisions.
“Access is fine, but access comes with guardrails to protect the integrity of our community and our parents,” said Leah Wilson, the group’s founder.
“Anything beyond the scope of school nursing would require the presence of a parent,” said Leah Wilson, the group’s founder.
GET THE TOMORROW HEADLINES IN YOUR INBOX