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Dem defends bill that would make Massachusetts colleges insure students

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Massachusetts lawmakers will hold a hearing on a unique bill Thursday that requires colleges to make sure all their students have basic health insurance, the Associated Press reports.

The legislation is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Richard Moore of Uxbridge, who is Chairman of the Senate Health Care Financing Committee.

“The purpose of the bill is to make sure there’s adequate, affordable coverage for students,” Jared Cain, Moore’s communications director, told Raw Story. “They’re perhaps the most important parts of society.”

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Though most colleges already mandate that all students buy health insurance, this bill is designed to close any gaps, Cain said. Massachusetts colleges will be forced to pay $1 per student for each day they continue to be uninsured.

While such legislation has not been introduced anywhere else, Moore believes he’s merely following the lead of college students in Massachusetts.

“The students are the ones that have really called for change on this,” Cain told Raw Story, “and we’re responding with what we think is a good bill that can help address the issue of affordable health care.”

One advocacy group that has been pushing for an effort like this is the Young Invincibles, whose focus is to ensure all adults between the ages of 18 and 34 have access to health care. The organization has strong praise for Moore’s initiative.

“We thank Senator Moore for taking this kind of leadership,” said Ari Matusiak, the group’s co-founder, in an interview with Raw Story. “It is an acknowledgment that young Americans, like all Americans, need access to quality affordable health care.”

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It is unclear at this point whether the state will offer any subsidies to meet this requirement. “The exact language of the bill has yet to be finalized,” said Cain.

“It would be at the school’s discretion as to how they offer their own version of a health insurance plan,” he continued. “It would have to meet the standard of ‘credible coverage’ as defined by the 2006 legislation.”

Moore’s office views this as an example of Massachusetts being a nationwide pioneer on health care policy.

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