University Benefits Committee
Meeting Minutes  - January 29, 2004
Approved March 25, 2004

Present:     Abby Chemers, Dennis Davito, Michael Duffy, Deborah Haliczer, Jim Lockard, Pam Rosenberg, Virginia Cassidy and Jerry Zar


The meeting was called to order at 10:00 a.m.
The proposed agenda was approved.
The minutes were approved.
Concerns about insurance reimbursement
The number of cases brought to HRS attention regarding insurance reimbursement concerns has been declining.

Deborah and Abby tried to meet with the President but due to his busy schedule Deborah talked to Kathy Buettner.  Kathy suggested that we first draft a letter from the President to CMS urging them to be more careful about transition issues when negotiating a new contract for administrative services of health insurance benefits.

403(b) and 457 Plans
A committee will be established to review how existing companies are performing and to determine which additional companies should be added.  The UBC is to appoint a representative to serve on the review committee that is to meet this summer.  Given the importance of retirement investments, everyone agreed that they wanted to find an expert to represent the UBC on the review committee.  A motion was made and approved to ask Professor Dick Dowen, Finance Department Chair, to either serve as the UBC’s ad hoc representative on the review committee or to recommend someone who has the appropriate background.  Programming in PeopleSoft has been completed so new options can be added.  Legal Counsel has plans to review for approval.

Retirement Planning Programs
Numerous retirement program presentations are scheduled:  February 4, March 9, April 22 and May 5.  HRS is now providing materials on retirement plan options to potential new hires.  New hires have been sending thank you notes to HRS for the orientation presentations on retirement plan options.  HRS has been going to the other campuses and making presentations there too.

Hearing aid Reimbursement
Hearing aids are not covered under our insurance plans.  The Wellness Office’s intern, Kim, started in January.  She has been assigned the task of looking into insurance issues regarding hearing aids.  She will start her research by meeting with the Speech and Hearing Clinic.  She will interview Gordon Means, who brought this issue to our attention.  She will perform other research on the topic.  Later in the semester, she will report to this committee on her findings.  She may also share this information with the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, as this is a workplace issue.

Domestic Partner Benefits
The Committee on Domestic Partner Benefits hopes to provide the UBC with an update in March.  Some legislators have submitted bills that would outlaw domestic partner benefits.

Technology Surcharge waived for employees
The Executive Cabinet decided that the technology surcharge would be waived for employees.  In December, refunds were issued to both employees and annuitants.

Bereavement leave policy request
An employee made a request that the bereavement leave for immediate family members be expanded.  Issues also came up about who is considered an immediate family member.    After some discussion, we learned that the bereavement policy may have been set by the IBHE.  It was decided that we would review all relevant policies prior to making any recommendations.

Report from NIU Annuitants Association
There are about NIU 1,000 members and statewide 11,000 members.  There are many issues that the NIUAA is watching.  There is concern that about the SURS governing board structure.

Today there are five retirement systems for state employees.  Each of the five systems has a board.  Each board approaches investments in a different way.  SURS has had the best earning record of the five systems for the past several years.    The OMB had recommended consolidation of the five boards into one resulting in the elimination of the SURS board and three others.  Many things could change if the governing board structure changes.  Many benefits are at risk.  The NIUAA would like to increase membership.  Eligibility requirements to join the NIUAA will be shared at the next meeting.
NIU Wellness Fair
The Wellness Fair will be March 24 in the HSC.

Leave policy for domestic violence situations
There is a new law that has passed.  Accordingly, a policy will need to be implemented to address the requirements of the law.  Legal Counsel will provide input.
Member on UBC in “Committees of the University” Publication
The University Council has updated the wording in the publication to allow Steve Cunningham’s designee to be a voting member of the UBC.


The meeting adjourned at 11:30 a.m.

NEXT MEETING:  March 25, 2004, Founders Library, Room 55,at 10:00 a.m.