A new resolution aiming to expand access of Medicaid benefits to the University Health System services took the Central Student Government floor at Tuesday night's meeting.
The resolution asks UHS to absorb the fees currently being charged to students and their dependents who receive standard Medicaid benefits. This would be during the period of time the University of Michigan applies for a waiver to the state of Michigan to service just University students who receive Medicaid and not the greater Washtenaw area, which current provision of Medicaid enforces.
Social Work student Brittney Williams, a co-author of the resolution and an assembly member who currently receives Medicaid benefits, shared with the committee the extensive duration of time the University has taken to obtain the waiver to service just University students.
“They know what’s going on, they just refuse to do this efficient work to get it done,” Williams said, visibly becoming emotional at the meeting. “You can go to UHS if your leg is broken, but you can’t get crutches if you have Medicaid.”
Rep. Sheema Rehman, an LSA senior and Williams' co-author, agreed, stating students needed to have their needs addressed.
“This is a concern that has been going on for a very long time at the University,” Rehman said. “UHS has done its best in the time being, but at the same time, the fact of the matter is students at this university pay part of their tuition to go to UHS and so, by virtue, being a student, fundamentally, we should have access to the University’s health service.”
Rehman also iterated the significant amount of funds allocated through tuition that go toward paying for the services by UHS. She stressed the relevance of the University’s recent diversity initiatives to be more inclusive, stating this resolution directly relates to its purpose and goals.
“If we’re really going to an inclusive university and go beyond just talking about DEI the way that you are inclusive to all students is recognizing this concern by a small number and even if it's one person it shouldn’t matter,” Rehman said.
Under the health-service fee included in student’s tuition, services such as contraceptive devices and standard medical equipment are not covered and require medical insurance for coverage. Currently, UHS services a variety of health-care providers such as expansive Medicaid and Medicare but does not service the standard Medicaid insurance.
Funding for waivers will aim to be provided in part by the DEI initiative as well as Student Life funds.
The resolution to support the plan was passed 35-1, with one abstaining.
Another resolution was tabled regarding current student concerns about the funding of the Leadership Engagement Scholarship.
The scholarship aims to reduce the costs and barriers students with “demonstrated need” currently face and that prevent them from being involved in extracurricular activities. The scholarship would allow them to lead and join their respective student organizations.
Currently, the scholarship is allocated through the base tuition.
CSG Vice President Micah Griggs and Engineering senior Tania Haddad, authors of the resolution, referenced the wide support they received in drafting the resolution from other student governing bodies within the University, iterating the wide range of backlash students had toward the funding of the scholarship.
The authors stated many students felt uncomfortable paying for the scholarship through their tuition.
“We still believe there are plenty of ways of funding the scholarship, and we didn’t want the higher perception of the scholarship to only be ‘Oh, it’s only going to be funded by the student fee,’ ” Haddad said. “I think we were just trying to take back the fee from the student body, which for the most part was negative about the student fee.”
Griggs argued the $85 million allocated through the DEI initiative aligns with the values and ideals of the scholarship and are viable funds that could be used to fund the scholarship instead of through tuition.
The resolution was tabled for further discussion.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified Williams' year in school, and did not name Rehman as a co-author of the resolution.