PORTLAND — High school students urged gubernatorial candidates this morning to maintain and possibly increase funding for the 27 school-based health centers in 17 Maine school districts.

Members of the student health center outreach teams at Deering and Portland high schools hosted a breakfast for gubernatorial candidates in the State of Maine Room at City Hall and provided a tour of the health center at Portland High.

Democratic candidates Pat McGowan, Libby Mitchell, John Richardson and Steve Rowe attended the breakfast, along with Republican candidate Peter Mills and Dr. Melanie Cutler, wife of independent candidate Eliot Cutler.

Students said the health centers are a cost-effective, convenient way to provide health care to students. Services range from physical exams and dental cleanings to mental health counseling and birth control for sexually active students.

“We want more school health centers,” said Mandi Arnott, a Deering High senior.

About 94 percent of all visits to Maine’s school-based health centers last year were covered by public or private insurance. About half of all visits were made by students covered by MaineCare, a publicly funded health insurance option for low-income people.

Several students representing the health center at Lewiston High School also attended the breakfast.

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