TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Board of Regents says graduate student employees at state universities will lose their health care subsidies starting next year as a result of a recent opinion by the IRS regarding health insurance.

The Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) reports that the IRS issued an opinion that an employing university can no longer provide a subsidy for graduate students’ health insurance under the Affordable Care Act because the system’s student plan is an individual plan. According to the Board of Regents, about 2,250 graduate students were receiving the subsidies as of May, and more than 3,700 were eligible for the option.

Regents communications director Breeze Richardson says Kansas’ state universities plan to offer extra compensation to students in place of the subsidies. The amount may vary by campus. Other options are being considered as well, such as putting graduate student employees onto the health care plan that faculty have access to.

In June, a group of 17 Democratic U.S. senators wrote to three federal agencies seeking to resolve the situation.

“We urge you to reconsider this interpretation, and to issue final guidance clarifying that it is consistent with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for universities to provide subsidized student health insurance coverage to their graduate students,” the senators wrote.

Richardson says there may be efforts at the federal level to get the IRS to change its opinion, but it would likely be too late for the upcoming academic year. The IRS issued guidance in February indicating universities would receive temporary relief from federal enforcement. This relief is coming to an end, but it does cover health plans for this academic year.

Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,

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