SGA discusses changes in Wellness Center

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As part of a special committee tasked with addressing the increasing cost of healthcare provided by the Wellness Center, Executive Vice President for Administration and Strategic Advancement Tobey Oxholm, along with Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students, Richard Jones and Associate Vice President for Student Wellness, Dr. David Rubenstein, held an open forum on Monday night at Rowan University’s Student Government (SGA) senate meeting. The group heard input from the student body, who were in attendance to provide the SGA with some perspective.

Over the last three years, the Wellness Center has seen a $400,000 upsurge in the costs of care. The special committee in charge of drafting a recommendation for the president has proposed four options in order to potentially stop the rising costs of services. The proposed options include:

  • The University will bill the health insurance carrier for the costs of services given to the students, just like when an individual sees their primary physician. Rowan University has calculated that there is $1.7 million that could be billed to insurance companies and turned into revenue. This option includes looking to obtain waivers so that co-pays and deductibles are not charged to students and there is confidentiality. This would result in the ability of the university to choose to not bill certain medical visits so that a student who wishes to keep those particular visits private from their parents could do so.
  • The university would charge a student health service fee which would then cover the Wellness Center costs. The money generated from this fee would be strictly used for Wellness Center purposes.
  • There would be no change and the Wellness Center will continue to operate the way it currently does.
  • A combination of the three options.

“We wanted to get a sense of what you are thinking about, so when we are meeting with our committee to give a recommendation to the president, we have your words in our ears,” said Oxholm.

The SGA senators brought up a range of questions and concerns about the different options before them. Jones overviewed the options, stating that the far extreme of each idea is proposing a student health fee, and the other extreme would be to continue to cover the costs of health services as they are now. However, that current plan of action is not meeting the needs of the students.

“That’s the reason why we have the triage people who say, ‘You know what, your issue is not as great as his issue so we have to take him, as opposed to taking you and then what happens is that your issue then festers and becomes as great as his issue’ and that’s the thing that we are trying to avoid,” said Jones. “We are coming to you to engage you in this conversations, not to sell you, not to dog and pony you, but to have you understand that we can’t do this without you and we need your input.”

Rubenstein spoke about closing the waitlist gap for the Wellness Center, which last year was 130 students, and now currently stands at 70 students. The waitlist for the psychiatric services in the Wellness Center has 15 to 20 students.

“Even though we have come a long way, we have a Wellness Center, we have much more staff than we ever had and what we also know is that we also have a ways to go and what we are trying to figure out is what is the best way to sustain and support and grow those services,” Rubenstein said.

The special committee will meet two more times before drafting a recommendation to send to President Ali Houshmand, who will decide which option is the best.

SGA’s last meeting of the year will take place on Monday, April 25 in the Chamberlain Student Center’s Eynon Ballroom at 7 p.m.

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