Among NASPA’s core beliefs is a commitment to social justice and a recognition of the foundational role student, faculty, and staff health and well-being play in fostering inclusive environments that enable student success. We have closely watched the progress of the House American Health Care Act (AHCA) of 2017 and the companion Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017 this spring and are deeply concerned about the expected impact the legislation would have on our members and students. Earlier this week, we joined 18 other higher education associations in a letter to the Senate leadership regarding the damaging effects the proposed AHCA and BCRA would have on college campuses across the country.
As the demographics of our student bodies evolve and increasing numbers of students are juggling school, work, and family obligations, the ability to access affordable and timely health care is paramount to their progress and completion. Analysis from the CLASP Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success demonstrates the detrimental effects the deep proposed cuts to Medicaid would have for college campuses across all states. The removal of a requirement for insurers to cover Essential Health Benefits is expected to result in “skinny” insurance plans with no coverage for mental health services. Further, a provision in the bill designed to encourage continuous coverage may disproportionately impact college students who are insured through campus-provided plans covering only the academic year, locking them out of coverage for six months following a gap of just 63 days.
NASPA remains committed to supporting and promoting student health and well-being. We cannot support the current proposed healthcare legislation that would leave so many students in jeopardy of losing coverage. We encourage Congress to reconsider engaging in a bipartisan effort to reform the Affordable Care Act in a way that addresses continued concerns without undermining how far we have come in providing healthcare to millions. Congress could consult several of the alternatives proposed by associations dedicated to strengthening our medical system and economic health, including the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Center for American Progress.
As Congressional representatives prepare to return to their districts to celebrate the 4th of July holiday, we encourage NASPA members to reach out to their local representatives and share their thoughts on the future of our national health care system.