Undergraduate Student Government officials from the advocacy branch and the senate introduced a resolution which would allocate funds from the student health fee toward subsidizing Sexually Transmitted Infection and Sexually Transmitted Disease tests through Engemann Student Health Center at the USG Senate meeting Tuesday.
According to Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler Matheson, Senator Buck Andrews and Director of Wellness Affairs Marina Hrovat, the resolution aims to expand access and incentives for students to acquire tests they may need. The resolution would apply to all USC students, regardless of their insurance plan.
“We want to build from those [Affordable Care Act] guidelines and make the tests more accessible for students,” Andrews said. “A lot of students have financial barriers and if they are unable to pay for the tests, they can spread the infection to other students. This can create a public health hazard for students not to be able to be tested.”
Hrovat said USG is proposing that the Engemann Student Health Center consider increasing the student health fee to account for the subsidies proposed for these tests.
“The student health fee increases annually just like our tuition and any other health fee,” Hrovat said. “Right now, Engemann is still working on what these numbers are going to roll out to be. Our proposal here is that this be taken into consideration when we are looking at the growth of the cost of the student health fee.”
Andrews emphasized, however, that the resolution is not yet final. Advocacy officials and senators intend to continue modifying and polishing the resolution prior to voting.
“This is still a resolution,” Andrews said. “It’s being worked out so there are going to be kinks with it, especially because it has to do with healthcare. It’s going to be adaptable.”
Matheson referenced statistics showing increases in STI rates cited in the resolution to highlight the urgency and significance of the initiative. He also noted that the statistics increased to a greater degree on the West Coast than the rest of the United States.
“Between 2015 and 2016 cases of chlamydia rose 4.7 percent, syphilis infections rose 17.6 percent, congenital syphilis rose 27.6 percent, and gonorrhea infection rate increased 22.2 percent among males,” Matheson said.
The USG Senate will vote on the resolution at its meeting next Tuesday night.