University Benefits Committee
Meeting Minutes - May 13, 2004

Present: Abby Chemers, Lynette Chandler, Dennis Davito, Michael Duffy, Ray Foster, Deborah Haliczer, Jim Lockard, Judith Malen, Pam Rosenberg, and Jerry Zar


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


The proposed agenda was approved.


The minutes were approved as corrected.


Domestic Partner Benefits
The Ad hoc Committee on Domestic Partner Benefits did not agree with all of the suggestions offered by the UBC but the committee is rewriting the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership. The UBC agreed to table support for domestic partner benefits at this time as the policy recommendation is not in its final format.

Concerns about insurance reimbursement
Most of the complaints regarding reimbursement have been settled through the appeal process.

403(b) and 457 Plans
There is currently one 457 plan available to employees. This summer an evaluation will be made to identify other 457 plans that could be made available to employees. The current 403(b) plans will also be evaluated to insure that they are still good plans. Specific individuals from HRS will perform the evaluation along with a UBC representative. As decided at an earlier UBC meeting, Richard Dowen will be the UBC’s ad hoc representative on the evaluation team.

Retirement Planning Programs
The April session was well attended.

Hearing aid Reimbursement Research
Hearing impairments can create many issues for working productively. A survey will be conducted in early fall to gather information from employees. Questions that may be included are (1) Do you have a hearing aid? (2) Have you been diagnosed with a hearing loss that could be helped by a hearing aid but not yet gotten one? (3) Is your hearing loss affecting your job? The following committee members will serve on a subcommittee this summer to produce the survey: Deborah, Jerry and Lynette. In addition, they will seek assistance from a non-committee member who has advanced knowledge on this topic.


Benefits Choice Period
CMS canceled the previously announced Benefit Choice Period. A Benefits Choice Period is required for employees to sign up for MCAP and DCAP accounts. The most current information about Benefit Choice updates is available at HRS is trying to keep everyone informed as soon as information is available. Steve Cunningham will be issuing a memo to campus in the next couple of days explaining the latest benefit information known.

All the HMO’s will be re-bid. At this point, there is no information available on what the new premiums will be. The administrator of the Vision Care Plan is changing to Spectra. Steve Cunningham and President Peters have been in Springfield gathering support from legislators for employee and annuitant benefits.

Report from NIU Annuitants Association
The Association requested that HRS send an email to campus in the fall informing employees that they can join and pay via payroll deduction.

Domestic partner dependent tuition waiver request
One of the benefits that the Ad hoc Committee for Domestic Partner Benefits would like to see implemented is a tuition waiver for dependents. Abby noted that there are Board of Higher Education limitations on the value of undergraduate tuition waivers that NIU can grant without negatively impacting our annual appropriation. Deborah said she would share this information with the Ad hoc Committee.


• New employees will be required to sign up for benefits within the first 10 days of their start/contract date in order to have all the benefits options available. Those who sign up after 10 days of their start/contract date will be automatically enrolled in Quality Care and benefits will not be available to their dependents.

• CMS is implementing a paperless initiative. Information will be available online. This will be difficult for those employees who do not have Internet access.

Next year, CMS will provide HRS with approximately half of the Benefit Choice Books needed in fiscal year 2005. In fiscal year 2006, CMS will not provide hard copies. HRS will print the additional books needed for distribution in fiscal year 2005 and they are researching options for making the information accessible to NIU employees in future years.

• Managed Care Plans will have a new appeals process without state involvement.

• Magellan has been slow paying providers.


• Taking a sabbatical during the last four years of work at half pay for a full year negatively impacts a faculty member’s Money Purchase Option calculation. This does not effect the traditional 4-high-year calculation.

• Appreciation was extended to Jim, Lynette and Abby for their service to the UBC. Their appointments to the UBC end at the end of this academic year.


The meeting adjourned at 11:55 a.m.

NEXT MEETING: September 23, 2004 at 10:00 a.m.