While many University students wait in fear of another tuition hike, faculty members took the first financial hit last week. On Friday, the University announced that faculty and retirees on University health plans will have to pay a higher proportion of the costs. Though this will be a tough increase for faculty, the University wasn’t left with much of a choice. Burdensome health care costs are a national problem, and institutions like the University shouldn’t be responsible for them. Instead, the federal government needs to create a universal health care system that provides for the medical needs of all people — a reform that eases the financial burden many organizations like ours are carrying.

According to University officials, health care is the most rapidly increasing cost on the University’s budget. That’s one reason why faculty members will soon be paying 30 percent of their total health care costs under a new plan — a considerable increase over the current 20 percent. The committees that created the plan, the Committee on Sustainable Health Benefits and the Committee to Study Retirement Savings Plan Vesting Options, opted to increase faculty contributions rather than scrap benefits.

With the University facing rising costs and state funding cuts from the state, something had to give. Failure to cut costs could harm other priorities like the need to keep tuition low. These costs are clearly draining money that should be available for other things.

And the University isn’t the only one hurting — burgeoning health care costs are partly to blame for the financial woes of Michigan’s auto makers. The best solution to the problems is federally managed universal health care. This would alleviate health costs that employers shouldn’t have to worry about. The rising cost of health care is a national issue that shouldn’t be left to individuals, employers and schools to solve.

The government is better equipped to address escalating costs and also has a duty to provide such services to all people. A national health care plan would reduce the cost of health care because private plans that already exist would have to offer lower prices to compete. This would in turn drive down costs for institutions like the University.

With the cost of health care decreasing from the creation of a national system, more people will be able to afford coverage. Opponents of universal health care might claim that a universal policy will lower the quality of care or result in abuse of the system, but this shouldn’t be the case in a well-managed program. Universal health care is the best solution to the inequalities created under current health care policies.

Colleges shouldn’t have to struggle with raising tuition or charging faculty members through the roof for services that their lives could literally depend on. Educators and other individuals aren’t responsible for the problems in private health care systems — they shouldn’t have to pay the price for the problem. And the federal government can’t shirk its responsibility to make high quality health care accessible to everyone. It’s time for Congress to make efficient, affordable health coverage a reality for all Americans.

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