Looks like students will have to find a bit more than pocket change in their couch cushions to cover their medical needs on campus next semester.
The Student Fee Advisory voted unanimously April 4th to accept a proposal for a $25 fee increase for each student, to increase gradually through Fall 2016 in an effort to fund campus health services. This marks the first fee increase in eight years for the Student Health Center.
“The reason for the increase is that the Student Health Center spent more than they brought in,” Director of Student Health Services Alastair Smith said. “If you look, Student Health Center fees have gone up less than any other entity.”
The last fee increase was in 2003. For the past five years the health center has managed to stretch its budget until now, and it also introduced Family Pact, a state-funded government program that saves students $1.5 million in pharmaceutical bills, including $500,000 in lab bills and tests. Family Pact is also used to fund the salaries of six staff members, according to Smith.
This is a vital source of saving considering that the center relies only on student fees to cover costs, as they take in no funds from SF State. Services to students have been reduced due to this, as 95 percent of the fees go to salaries and benefits to its employees.
According to Smith, currently Student Health Service is spending surplus revenue to cover costs, so the introduction of the proposal is vital to maintaing its primary functions. A number of campus organizations are in favor, including Active Minds and the Student Health Advisory Committee. President Robert A. Corrigan also approved a student petition April 5.
The petition is open to all registered students to sign in favor or against the proposal at various tabling events in the Student Health Center, Cesar Chavez Student Center and campus housing.
“I signed the petition,” said kineseology student Faythe Tobias, 20. “I frequently use the Student Health Center. It’s my only form of health care and it’s worth it. Better than paying private insurance every month.”
The increase will introduce 12 new medical and counseling staff, provide 24/7 phone care and free reproductive health services over the next five years, according to the proposal.
Without the fee increase proposal being accepted, all current counseling and psychological services will be cut. There has been a vacancy for the position of staff psychiatrist since February 27, before there was just one full-time psychiatrist for roughly 30,000 students.
For some students however, the proposed benefits may never reach them anyway.
“I’ve never been there in my life,” said 20-year-old broadcast and electronic communications art major Thomas Scully. “I think that their cause is good, but they should try to keep their costs low because the majority of students probably don’t go there.”
Students have until Monday April 23 to sign the petition and have their voice heard about the new fee increase.