WORCESTER – Tuesday, April 13, 2010 – Together with education officials, college faculty and students, Governor Deval Patrick today celebrated the sweeping reorganization of student health insurance benefits that will significantly enhance state and community college students' access to quality health care coverage. The expansion of health plan options on 24 public college campuses across the Commonwealth follows Governor Patrick's announcement in early April that Massachusetts had partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide new and updated services for students beginning this August.
"Our college students deserve access to high quality health care that will keep them focused and ready to learn," said Governor Patrick. "I'm thankful to all of the members of the planning team who came together and took on the hard work of ensuring our students are accessing the best care at the best value."
"By ensuring access to high quality health care for our college students, our Administration is supporting the health of our future leaders and the Commonwealth's economic vitality," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.
A total of 26 individuals, including students and administrators from the Commonwealth's state and community colleges, instituted a comprehensive, competitive procurement process to identify a plan to ensure students get access to high quality care moving forward. Members of the Student Health Plan Committee included representatives from the University of Massachusetts, the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, the Commonwealth Connector Authority, the Department of Higher Education, the Executive Office of Education, the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Governor Patrick was joined by local and state officials at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester for the celebration. Students at Quinsigamond, along with students at the state's other 23 public higher education campuses will have the option of purchasing the new health plans.
"This new student health insurance plan will ensure that our public college students have access to affordable, quality care that meets the needs of our state's young adults," said Connector Board Chairman and Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez. "I thank the many members of the team that came together to create this new program and make sure students have insurance they can rely on to stay healthy. This is a great example of collaboration to get the best value for our health care dollars."
"Massachusetts is fortunate to have advocates who are willing to work with us in our continuing efforts to ensure that all people in the Commonwealth have comprehensive access to care. Student advocates played an essential role in making sure we revised student health plans," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "The reorganization reflects the Governor's ongoing commitment to finding affordable solutions for health care delivery."
"College students have a lot of responsibilities that require a lot of attention so providing the best value and access to health insurance helps them devote their time to their studies," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "I'm thankful to my many colleagues who worked so hard to reach this deal."
During the event, the Governor thanked members of his Administration for their hard work and noted the contributions of many other individuals who helped negotiate the new deal.
"We are moving from limited 'illness and injury' coverage to comprehensive health insurance," said Commonwealth Connector Authority Executive Director Jon Kingsdale. "These students will soon enjoy preventive care, disease management, worldwide coverage, and access to a premier network of clinicians without the arbitrary benefit caps and coverage gaps that can saddle the very sick with extensive out-of-pocket expenses."
"The new plan represents a great leap forward for student health care and is also a powerful example of how colleges within our public system are working together to enhance our students' well-being," said Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland. "By grouping their students together, the colleges are able to maximize their buying power, resulting in a much improved health plan."
Since 1989, all higher education students in Massachusetts have been required to have health coverage. The majority of students are covered through plans provided by family members, but some still purchase services through their institutions of study. This expanded coverage will give students purchasing health care through their schools, access to affordable, quality health care coverage.
"This collaborative effort furthers the Commonwealth's goal of ensured access to quality health care for an often overlooked segment of society: college students," said Higher Education Committee Chairman Senator Benjamin B. Downing. "The Patrick Administration should be congratulated for this long overdue benefit reorganization effort."
"This collaborative effort furthers the Commonwealth's goal of ensured access to quality health care for an often overlooked segment of society: college students. The Patrick Administration should be congratulated for this long overdue benefit reorganization effort," said Senator Benjamin B. Downing, Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.
"I applaud the Governor, Commissioner Freeland, Executive Director Kingsdale, and the presidents of the state and community colleges for seizing the opportunity provided by the state's Health Insurance Connector to develop a more comprehensive health care product for students at our state and community colleges at a price comparable to what they currently pay. Hopefully, this initiative will succeed and lead the way in the future for the University of Massachusetts and other higher education institutions in the state to participate." said Representative David M. Torrisi, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education.
"I am proud to have served on the Student Health Plan Steering Committee and to have contributed to a process that resulted in new and improved health insurance coverage for students," said Weverton T. Silva, student trustee at Bunker Hill Community College. "Because all of the campuses will purchase insurance as a group, students will get much better coverage including preventative care under this new plan."