The University of Missouri will continue to provide health insurance subsidies to graduate student employees, the MU chancellor’s office announced Friday in a statement.
That reverses the university’s controversial decision, announced last week, to discontinue the subsidies because of the threat of fines related to the federal government’s enforcement of the Affordable Care Act.
The announcement that the subsidies would be eliminated came less than two weeks before the start of the school’s fall semester, sparking anger and activism among students. A student organization was planning a walk out on Wednesday to protest the decision, and some members of the university’s staff and faculty had joined online groups and spoken out in support of the students.
According to its most recent statement, MU will “defer implementation of its decision regarding graduate student health insurance. As a result, the university will pay for health insurance for eligible graduate students.”
Leona Rubin, MU’s associate vice chancellor for graduate studies, said in an email that the subsidy, which in past years has been offered to students who have graduate assistantships and fellowships, will be provided like before. “If you enroll for the year, it will cover the year; if you enroll for a semester, it will cover the semester,” Rubin wrote.
In Fiscal Year 2015, more than 3,000 students received the subsidies, at a cost of almost $4 million to the university.
Kristofferson Culmer, the chair of the University of Missouri System’s Intercampus Student Council and a doctoral candidate in computer science, called Friday’s news “a good step in the right direction.” But, he said, “a long-term solution needs to be developed.”
Culmer said he’s happy that students have their insurance back but “there are many other issues that affect graduate student well-being that need to be addressed as well.”