Historically Black University Cancels Student Health Option; Obamacare to Blame?

Rumor has it that President Obama's Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, may have cost students at Maryland's Bowie State University their healthcare coverage. However, the University denies any connection between the two.

According to college news site Campus Reform, "the official website for Bowie State, a Maryland public school less than an hour's drive from Washington D.C., explains that Obamacare's new regulations would force the cost of the insurance to rise from $50 to $900 a semester." This price increase, the report argues, led the university to decide not to provide student coverage any longer.

Cassandra Robinson, director of University Relations & Marketing at Bowie State, said Campus Reform got the story all wrong, in an interview with The Christian Post on Friday. While she acknowledged that "the healthcare act makes the policies that we have been able to provide earlier no longer an option," Robinson claimed that the university had been considering more expensive plans before Obamacare came into effect.

Robinson told CP that in the Spring of 2013, the university was "recommending that students have insurance policies that provide more adequate coverage," and were therefore more expensive. "We were already looking at those options" before Obamacare, she explained.

"Students are very concerned about healthcare costs," Robinson continued, and "they saw that the cost for what could be available through the university would be higher than they were willing to pay." In lieu of buying the more expensive health policy through the university, students opted to find insurance elsewhere, the administrator explained. Some will gain coverage through Maryland's exchanges, but most students will be able to stay on their parents' plans, she added.

Campus Reform, in an updated version of its article, also insinuated that the White House's pledge to historically black colleges and universities – or HBCUs – is being violated in the case of Bowie State University. The news site quoted White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. President Obama has "a bias in favor of historically black colleges and universities because of the service they provide and because of the quality education that they provide to their students," Earnest said in August.

"Special support to the HBCUs is completely separate from the effort that the White House is putting toward the Affordable Care Act," Robinson countered. The support Earnest discussed includes "programs and academic and financial help for the institutions," not health plans.

Robinson accused Campus Reform of "mixing two different kinds of issues."

Pastor Ken Hutcherson
Dr. Ken Hutcherson is the senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Washington State. |

But Ken Hutcherson, senior pastor of Antioch Bible Church near Seattle, Wash., and former middle linebacker for the NFL Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, and San Diego Chargers, accepted Campus Reform's side of the story, and blamed Obamacare for increasing healthcare premiums across the country. "Premiums, co-pays, everything is going up because of what insurance companies now have to line up with the healthcare law," Hutcherson told The Christian Post on Friday.

"I think the best thing is to completely throw the bill out," the pastor declared. "It's not going to help the black colleges, it's really hurting them."

Hutcherson denounced a possible effect of the law – making some people pay and others not pay – as "unchristian." The pastor called for a flat tax, "Everyone pays 10 percent like the Bible says, that will be right I think."

Hutcherson encouraged churches to lead in the fight against Obamacare. "I think anyone that wants to see what is right should push to get rid of the law," he said. "We want to help people. If this isn't helping people, it's a good thing to get rid of."

But Robinson argued the opposite. "As it's designed, the health exchanges will certainly provide a much more comprehensive level of healthcare protection to our students who do not have access to healthcare through their parents or other avenues," she argued. Robinson called this situation, brought about by the healthcare law, "most advantageous."

Nevertheless, healthcare expert Christopher Conover, a Duke University scholar and adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said last week that Obamacare will force 129 million people to lose or alter their plans, despite President Obama's oft-repeated claim that "if you like your plan, you'll be able to keep it." Partially in response to this broken promise, for which Obama has apologized and which he has attempted to remedy, his approval rating hit a record low this week.

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