YSU Students Cast Ballots On Health Fee

Youngstown State University. (Ashton Marra/ideastream)
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Students at Youngstown State University are casting ballots this week on whether to impose a new fee in exchange for increased access to healthcare on campus.

The $34-a-semester health fee was proposed by university officials to YSU’s Student Government Association earlier this year, which voted in February to include the initiative on its April election ballot.

The new fee would pay for a dedicated on-campus clinic run by Mercy Health, two full-time healthcare professionals and expanded services and hours, including some on the weekends.

The current clinic located in the student center is open five days a week, but is only staffed by a doctor on three of those days. SGA President Rayann Atway said students must make an appointment, and they have limited access to medical testing and prescriptions.

“With a growing residential population, and even a growing international student population, a lot of students who are living on campus don’t have a full time physician,” Atway said. “So, instead of going to the urgent care where they could pay hundreds of dollars, they can have access to all of these services.”

Approval of the fee, however, is more complicated than just a majority affirmative vote.

Sixty-percent of student voters must cast favorable ballots and voter turnout on campus must reach 10 percent. Atway said their typical participation rate is 8 percent.

If the proposal meets those benchmarks, the health fee will be presented to the university’s Board of Trustees and the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education for final approval, with the intention of opening the clinic in August 2018.

In a written statement, YSU Vice President for Student Affairs Eddie Howard said all of the other comprehensive public universities in Ohio either assess a student health fee, or require students to have health insurance.

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