SCHOOL CLINICS: Should Parental Consent Be an Issue?
In a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed, Assemblywoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) defends AB 1363, her bill that would expand access to school-based health centers for uninsured children. She writes that while more than three million children in California are uninsured, only 66 of 8,000 schools in the state have school-based health centers, most set up on parents' request in undeserved communities. AB 1363 was conceived to give "some of the health centers the opportunity to serve as primary care providers for children who may be eligible for federally funded Healthy Families insurance." In order to attack the bill, however, "there has been a recent campaign to attack these centers, falsely accusing them of providing services without parental consent." But Davis notes that the "opposition has not been able to cite one clinic in California which does not require parental consent." The bill, in fact, "[c]learly states that parental consent policy must be established in accordance with state law; [p]rovides for the majority of members of a clinic's advisory committee to be parents of children attending that school; [d]oes not require expenditure of state education funds for clinic purposes; [d]oes not require the schools to staff the clinics, children to attend the clinic or children to receive services from the clinic; [d]oes not require or suggest that school clinics will conduct abortions and none ever have." She writes that as some parents have concerns over the cost of care, and some may find it difficult to pick a child up from school for medical care, the bill simply allows the clinics to act as "safety net provider[s]." She concludes: "What is important is that as many eligible children as possible get the health coverage to which they are entitled at whatever medical provider they choose" (9/30).
In related news, the Los Angeles Times reports today that the Moorpark city council and school board are formally opposing the school clinics bill. They intend to send a letter to Gov. Davis urging a veto. City council member Chris Evans, who brought the issue for consideration, said AB 1363 would enable school boards "to know more about our children's health than parents would." Moorpark parent Cindy Coughlon said, "This is the back door to socialized medicine" (Davis, 10/01).