Student Assembly favors resolution mandating health insurance

The vast majority of ASUU General Assembly representatives voted in favor of a resolution mandating all students to show proof of health insurance before registering for classes.

The resolution will go before the administration where University of Utah President Michael Young must sign it before being implemented.

The resolution would affect an estimated 17 percent of students who currently attend the U without any health coverage. By Fall Semester of 2007, students without health insurance would not be allowed to attend the U unless they could prove they could not afford coverage.

Student officials said they hope this resolution will help save student health coverage on campus and extend that opportunity to as many students as possible.

“We’re that much closer, and I’m glad the representatives decided to vote in favor of this resolution,” said Tiffany Trinh, outreach director of the Student Health Advisory Committee.

Weston Lloyd, representative of the School of Medicine, voted in favor of the resolution saying it is the responsibility to help those who have no other way of getting insurance besides the student health plan and that it is a social responsibility for a person to have coverage.

Spencer Pearson, representative from social and behavioral sciences, said he didn’t think it is the student government’s responsibility or right to mandate health-insurance coverage to other people.

Associated Students of the University of Utah President Ali Hasnain proposed the resolution to the ASUU Senate and Assembly last October after learning the U’s health plan was failing and the provider, GM Southwest, might drop coverage for financial reasons.

Currently, GM Southwest is losing money because most students on the plan buy coverage knowing they will use it.

In November, the Senate and Assembly passed a resolution to further investigate the effects of mandating health insurance. The resolution commissioned a survey to find the demographics of the uninsured, why they don’t have coverage and how much they could spend if necessary.

The Senate approved the resolution asking for the administration to mandate health insurance April 20.

With discussion of a potential hard-waiver insurance policy, GM Southwest raised premiums 6 percent, down from a predicted increase of 30 to 40 percent, said Jason Gillman, adviser to SHAC.

GM Southwest bid a 6 percent increase to position it to be the provider if a hard waiver is implemented, Gillman said.

Also, 20 other companies have expressed interest in offering a bid if the U adopted a mandatory policy.

The current resolution would create a new committee where students could appeal the policy after submitting all sources of income and expenses, proving they cannot afford health insurance.

The resolution also calls for the creation of a scholarship to help subsidize the cost of health insurance for students who cannot afford it. Students would apply to the student government for coverage.

Student representatives expressed concern that the resolution was too ambiguous on the development of the scholarship, but Hasnain said the resolution was vague because it’s not a policy, and further discussion is necessary by the administration before particulars are created.

Maegan Burr

Weston Lloyd, ASUU Assembly member from the School of Medicine, asks a question about the proposed bill requiring students to have health insurance on Tuesday during the last Assembly meeting of the year. The bill later passed, and it will now go to the administration. If it is passed, the soonest that it would go into effect would be in the fall of 2007.