Graduate Student Workers have spoken: 98% of GSWs want to maintain or improve our healthcare coverage. USC administration has instead chosen to lobby at the state capitol in support of a bill that would allow them to gut the student health insurance plan. If passed, SB-607 would leave everyone enrolled in the USC student health insurance plan — thousands of USC students, including most GSWs — vulnerable both to major cuts in healthcare coverage and the elimination of life-saving price caps on insulin and other prescription drugs. In order to achieve our collective goals, GSWs must take action.
SB-607 creates a carve-out for private university student health plans, exempting them from statewide regulations that ensure that healthcare plans meet minimum standards of coverage. Specifically, if this bill were to become law, it would remove the statewide requirement for the USC student health plan to cover:
- Transgender care
- Abortion services
- Fertility preservation
- Mental health and substance use disorder care benefits specified in SB 855 and AB 988
- Autism services
- $35 cap on insulin
- $250 caps on prescription drug copays and coinsurance
- No prior authorization for PrEP and PEP
- Prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation
- And much more
We as Graduate Student Workers are no different than the over 18 million Californians who rely on employer-sponsored healthcare. SB-607 treats students as undeserving of these basic life-saving protections, ignoring the fact that we as workers need these protections just like any other private-sector worker in the state of California.
The good news is that SB-607 is still in committee, meaning the California State Senate isn’t yet ready to vote on it. It is incredibly disappointing to see USC administration use their power and influence to lobby for a bill that would directly harm thousands of USC students. However, there are actions we can take to ensure this bill never becomes law.
Not only does having a union allow us to fight for better working conditions at the bargaining table; it empowers us to stand in solidarity against politicians who collaborate with employers to take advantage of workers like us. GSWOC members will be meeting with legislators, sending in support letters, and taking action to ensure that we maintain and improve our healthcare. Stay tuned for updates on how to take action and reply to this email if you want to get involved.
Maile McCann, Civil Engineering