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Staff Editorial: USF Moves Forward with Healthcare Reform

What the Foghorn thinks of the student clinic changes

Attention all students under the weather: USF’s student health clinic has gotten much better! Okay, it might be too early for holiday rhymes but it is never too early to catch a cold — and though nobody wants to spend their November afternoon stifling sniffles (and who knows what else) in the doctor office waiting room, we at the Foghorn are extremely grateful for the improvements made, both practical and ideological, to the USF student health clinic, especially in regards to oral contraception.

As of June 2013, USF’s student health care clinic has relocated to a new floor with a new staff and new caregivers within St. Mary’s Medical Center — and apparently, it is all in the name of better accommodating us, the students. With a larger freshman class accepted into the university each year, it follows that the percentage of students who suffer from extensive health problems also increases. In response to the growing need of more accommodating health services, Kamal Harb, the director of health promotion services, and various other members of the university community struck a mutual agreement with nurse practitioners to move the USF student health clinic elsewhere in the medical center.

The new student health clinic, as a result of the nurses, administrators, and two responsive and fast-paced primary physicians, offers more available appointment times, shorter waiting lines, and a wider range of health services for students.

USF’s new student clinic accommodates far more than extensive health problems; it also gives students more access to oral contraceptives. Both USF and St. Mary’s are Catholic institutions, and the medical center has long since abided by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services that forbids the condonement of any sort of preventive contraceptive, unless in extreme cases. USF is now in a contract with Dignity Health Medical Group, the new owner of St. Mary’s, and the physicians at the USF student health clinic can now prescribe oral contraceptives to female students.

While a California mandate has required that all state health insurance policies with prescription drug benefits include coverage for prescription contraceptives since 2004, Catholic institutions around the nation have since been adjusting to the recent federal contraception mandate. The president of Georgetown, the oldest Jesuit university in America, sent out a university-wide email on Aug. 15 of this year, that read: “These regulations give us the opportunity to reconcile our religious identity and our commitment to providing access to affordable health care.” The email also said that the university’s insurance companies would cover the cost of contraceptive services for faculty, staff, and students who opt to use them.

In recognition of the steps taken to accommodate students’ diverse medical needs, we applaud USF for embracing change and progress of the times. As a Jesuit institution, we must appreciate the fact that USF has decided to move forward in terms of providing coverage for such a necessity despite the religious controversy that surrounds oral contraception.

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