The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 69.0°F | Overcast

MIT Medical Center Extends Outpatient Therapy Coverage

Last Wednesday, MIT Medical announced that the Extended MIT Hospital Insurance Plan for MIT students will add coverage for unlimited outpatient psychotherapy visits with no copayments, beginning September 1.

Under this plan, there will no longer be an annual visit limit, and the coverage will be raised from $50 per visit to unlimited coverage. It will also change inpatient coverage from 60 to 120 days per benefit period -- the second improvement in the Extended Plan outpatient mental health benefit this year.

This improved coverage applies to outpatient individual or group psychotherapy, and it covers services provided by a licensed Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield participating psychiatrist, psychologist, independent clinical social worker, mental health counselor or mental health clinical nurse specialist, when referred by MIT Medical’s Mental Health Service.

“Perhaps we can encourage students to attack the issues of stress and depression with the same diligence they attack their problem sets, by using all of the best tools available, including talking to someone else,” said William M. Kettyle, head of MIT Medical. “We’re looking forward to receiving the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force, and will continue to work to strengthen MIT Medical’s Mental Health Service.”

New state regulations require that student insurance plans offer improved mental health benefits. However, these benefits only apply to a limited number of severe conditions. The law ignores the large group of patients with less severe issues.

“We’re going substantially beyond what the law requires, so that the new benefit will apply to all MIT students who enroll in the Extended Plan,” said Ellen Offner, MIT Medical’s director of health plans and finance, in a recent Tech Talk article.

Offner also said that it wasn’t yet clear how much next year’s Extended Plan rates would have to go up in order to help pay for the new benefits.

-- Eun J. Lee

CAC Considers Regulating Music On Stratton Steps

The Campus Activities Complex is considering a proposal regulating the use of music on the Student Center steps. The proposal comes after a complaint from a resident of McCormick Hall, Cynthia K. Johanson ’01, about how loud the music is being played.

Johanson said she was disturbed by the music when it was played to promote Spring Weekend on April 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Music played from the student center steps is very audible from the dorms surrounding Kresge Oval, contrary to what non-residents believe. Those who are most affected by music they might find distracting may not have time to spare for regaining lost productivity or pursuing alternative noise policies,” Johanson said.

An e-mail was sent to other dorms that are along the perimeter of Kresge Oval, such as Bexley Hall, asking if any complaints have been made about the music and to direct responses to specific MIT administrators.

An opposing e-mail was sent by McCormick resident Selam Daniel ’02, asking students to support music on the steps.

McCormick Housemaster Charles Stewart III said, “This is more like a noise-ordinance-type complaint usually made in the urban environment. We need to know if the Student Center and the surrounding areas form a sort of amphitheater that makes it possibly louder in the McCormick tower compared to Kresge Oval.”

A lot of McCormick residents seem to disagree with the noise complaint. “Yes, sometimes I can hear it faintly in my room, but it isn’t a big deal, because I can easily ignore the music when I want to,” said resident Preeti Chadha ’03.

Other students in McCormick said that they had not even been notified that the CAC was considering regulating the music. “I am a McCormick resident and I had no idea about this initiative. All I can tell you is that I am not in favor of stopping music on the steps,” said Ivana L. Sturdivant ’04.

A decision by the CAC should be reached within the coming week.

“I would like to see a policy in place that takes into consideration students who might prefer to pursue their studies aggressively while encouraging and maintaining a campus community,” Johanson said.

-- Efren Gutierrez