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ASUW board of directors to discuss a comprehensive bill on student health insurance

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Passed earlier this March, R-25-29, a student senate bill calling for broad student health reform, will come to the ASUW Board of Directors (BOD) for final debate.

The BOD initially discussed it at the May 16 board meeting, but decided to table the bill to wait to hear back from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS).

At the most recent meeting, the BOD recommitted the bill back to senate to consider new language from the sponsor, Jeremy Moon. According to Moon, the new language would call for a task force, which will be made up of members from both the ASUW and the GPSS, to implement the measures outlined in the bill, according to Moon.

Broadly, the joint resolution for student health insurance seeks to reform student insurance at the UW. Currently, there is no comprehensive health insurance plan for UW students, according to the bill.

“The goal with this resolution would be to provide students the opportunity to seek care without financial barriers,” Moon said in an email to The Daily. “While students are at school they have too many other things to worry about; accessing care should not be one of them.”

According to the bill, the previous health insurance plan for students was discontinued in 2014 because of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid for students.

The bill also cites the dire need for student health insurance because it is disproportionately inaccessible to communities of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and immigrant students on campus. On top of that, 40% of students surveyed for the bill said that they had delayed necessary care because the out-of-pocket cost was too expensive.

“Many UW students are uninsured or effectively uninsured while they attend school,” Moon said. “Because they are undocumented, from out of state, or because they make too much to qualify for Apple Health and too little to afford private insurance.”

The bill offers a few solutions, drawing from peer institutions like Cornell University and the University of California school system. At Cornell, there is a private opt-out Student Health Insurance Plan (SHP) given to all students. The ASUW bill calls the opt-out model a preferable solution because it increases the risk pool and would help to cover the costs of a plan such as the one at Cornell.

Additionally, at the UC schools, there is a comprehensive model of health insurance that covers all students — whether undocumented, international, or domestic — across all schools. According to the bill, choosing an opt-out model would increase the plan’s overall financial viability, meaning it would be able to cover the most amount of students on campus. For the UW, the model would be similar to that of the UC schools.

“The health insurance would be billed to students as a student fee,” Moon said. “So students would still have the opportunity to use scholarships and fee waivers to pay for the costs.”

Currently, the ASUW bill asks for any health program to be put in place that does not merge the domestic costs with the International Student Health Insurance Plan (ISHIP), because the cost would increase fees for international students.

For a long-term goal, the bill calls for the university to expand its health care system and work toward a comprehensive model of student care.

“Ideally, this would allow those who are uninsured or who have Apple Health to gain access to this program without an increase in expenses,” Moon said.

The BOD meets Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in HUB 303.

Reach ASUW reporter Thelonious Goerz at Newsa@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @TheloniousGoerz

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