University Benefits Committee
August 15, 2002
Meeting Minutes

Present: Virginia Cassidy, Abby Chemers, Dennis Davito, Ray Foster, Deborah Haliczer, Jim Lockard, Judith Malen, Mary Munroe, Jerrold Zar

I.     Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 10:05 a.m.

II.     Adoption of the agenda

The agenda was approved.

III.    Approval of the April minutes

The minutes were approved.

IV.     New Business

Committees of the University publication and University Bylaws
A couple of discrepancies exist between the Committees of the University publication and the University Bylaws.  The group unamiously agreed that the following amendments should be sent to Sue Willis, University Council Executive Secretary, for consideration.
*  The annuitant representative should be listed as full voting member in the Committees of the University publication.
*  The University Bylaws should state that the Manager of Insurance should be an ex-officio, non-voting member.

There was another inconsistency:  The University Bylaws indicates two representatives of the administration are to be appointed but the Committee on Committees publication has just one representative listed.

(After the meeting, on Sept. 17, Abby stopped by the Executive Secretary’s Office to request that they look at the Committee on Committees Report to see what the intention was regarding the last inconsistency.  Donna Mathesius, Administrative Assistant, said she would contact Archives to determine the Committee’s recommendation.)

Annual Report
The annual report was approved with minor grammatical changes.

Meetings for Academic Year 2002-2003
In order to avoid conflicts with Board of Trustees meetings, the committee will meet the second Thursday of October, December, February and April at 10 a.m.  Everyone present said that they could be reached via email.

Eye Coverage
Ray had learned from co-workers that they wondered why we are approved for an annual eye exam but our benefits cover new glasses/contacts bi-annually.  This seems inconsistent.  If the exam identifies you need a new prescription, one would expect coverage for glasses/contacts.  Dennis thought that the move to an annual exam was made by CMS to provide employees the opportunity to have glaucoma testing annually.  He said he would try to find out more information and get back to the UBC.

Old Business

Letter from Presidential Commission on Status of Women, Prescription Coverage for Contraceptives
Mary reported that last year the University Benefits Committee (UBC) received a letter from the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women asking for our support and endorsement of prescription coverage for birth control, in accordance with the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  Members of the UBC went back to the Faculty Senate, Operating Staff Council and Supportive Professional Council to find out if they were supportive of this issue.  These groups supported the issue.  No feedback came from the Annuitants.  Mary had anticipated that each of these groups would have put their support in writing but that did not happen so she had drafted a resolution for the committee members to review.

Virginia felt that getting signatures for the resolution would be unnecessary work.  She recommended that since there was 100% support from three of the four groups that our committee could write a letter of support directly to the president.  Jerry recommended that the letter emphasize that the current prescription policy is not in compliance with the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Follow-up on Dental Benefit Survey
Deborah reported previous committee members, Deb Hudspeth and Ann Mohammed, felt strongly that employees might be willing to pay more for dental benefits in order to have better coverage.  At the last meeting, Deb Hudspeth, Ann Mohammed and Dennis were authorized to form a subcommittee that was empowered by the UBC to make decisions about the survey during the summer months.  The purpose of the survey was to determine if there would be support for a low and high option of dental insurance, like we had several years ago.  Unfortunately, the subcommittee had not been able to meet with Dan House, Director, Institutional Research, to set up the survey.  Deborah said she would try to get together with Dan to proceed on this.  Given that Deb Hudspeth and Ann are no longer on the UBC, Mary volunteered to work with Deborah and Dennis on the Dental Benefit subcommittee.  The group unanimously approved the appointment of the subcommittee’s new membership.

V.     Insurance and Benefits Office Update
Dennis reported the following.

· 30 and out legislation passed and it is permanent.  This allows persons to retire without the age requirement.  However, employees with 30 years are not entitled to the maximum benefit.  HRS has found that some employees are confused about this.
· The ERO (Early Retirement Option) expires on August 31, 2002.  After August 31, 2002, there is no way for an employee, who has less than 30 years of service, to buy out the penalty for retiring between the ages of 55 and 60 years.
·  There has been a major change in the 457B ruling.  Employees can use this tax deferred retirement savings option to catch up on retirement contributions 3 years prior to the year of retirement.  Consequently, this option cannot be used to shelter vacation and sick leave payouts from taxation in the year of retirement.
· Retirements have slowed down.  SURS representatives are no longer coming to campus each month.  Marlene Bryant and Dennis are getting caught up with retirement counseling.  Much of the data entry of insurance benefits have been moved out of the Insurance Office so that they can concentrate on benefit counseling.
· Problems are occurring with CMS billing insurance premiums to NIU employees who are in a no pay status during the summer.  There have been cases where the employee is out of the country and their insurance coverage is dropped.  If all salaried employees were paid over 12 months, this would be a non-issue.  It would be more difficult to develop a work around for hourly paid employees who are on a no-pay status.  Once insurance coverage is dropped, it cannot be reinstated without going through the whole process, including “proof of insurability.”
· Faculty members who were on a no-pay status this summer brought to HRS’ attention that they could use their MCAP benefit only while they are in pay status.  Consequently, a number of employees were penalized for holding off surgery until after the semester was over.  This is one more reason for faculty to select the 9 over 12 option.
· There have been allegations of discrimination because FMLA is not administered across campus consistently.  This can be problematic for teaching faculty.  Some departments require a teaching overload before or after the semester for pregnancies.  Departments with research/labs/projects are less problematic as teaching faculty can be given assignments in these areas for part of a semester.  Accordingly, HRS is looking to draft guidelines for alternative work assignments.  She will be talking to the Council of Deans first as most colleges may already have guidelines on workloads.  She plans to work with the Faculty Senate on this and will share ideas with the UBC.  The goal is to provide department chairs with ideas for fairly administering FMLA across campus.
VI.     Election of Chair and Secretary
Members were asked if they would be interested in volunteering for the chair and/or secretary positions.  Hearing no volunteers, Mary and Abby were asked if they would be willing to serve another year.  Both agreed to serve just one more term in their current roles.  The group unanimously elected Mary for the chair position and Abby for the secretary position.

VII.    Adjourn

The meeting adjourned at approximately 11:20 a.m.

Next Meeting:  October 10, 2002 at 10:00 a.m., Founders Library, Room 55