December 9, 2016

December 2016 APAC News Vol. 9, No. 3

Unstable Situation Concerning Health Insurance

By Susan S. Stevens

IT TAKES a long, long time for many health insurance claims to be paid. And no end is in sight.

THE STATE of Illinois is more than a year and a half behind in paying some of bills. Once in a while, there’s a breakthrough on insurance payments. But many doctors, dentists, and other health care providers are still waiting. And some of those providers want State employees to pay up-front, then collect from the State when they can. Not only current employees, but also retirees, face these problems. The State deficit is the chief reason, complicated by the lack of a State budget and a labor contract impasse.

THE ILLINOIS comptroller’s office on Nov. 23 had a $10.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills and was five months behind in paying vouchers for such things as health care, comptroller’s spokesman Rich Carter said. As of Nov. 22, the State needed $140 billion to pay all of its bills and pension obligations, the Illinois Policy Institute said.

CENTRAL MANAGEMENT Services reported Nov. 11 that the State had been releasing funds collected from employee premiums to pay claims submitted during part but not all of last year.

DETAILS:
Quality Care Health Plan (administered by Cigna)
Claims processed through May 8, 2015, have been released to QCHP-contracted providers (as of Dec. 2, 2016).
Claims processed through Feb. 20, 2015, have been released to non-QCHP-contracted providers (as of Dec. 2, 2016).

HealthLink OAP
Claims processed through June 22, 2015, have been released.

Coventry OAP
Claims processed through July 22, 2015, have been released.

Quality Care Dental Plan (administered by Delta Dental of Illinois)
Claims processed through Oct. 31, 2015, have been released to PPO-contracted providers. Claims processed through Sept. 19, 2015, have been released to Premier-contracted providers. Claims processed through April 4, 2015, have been released to mon-network providers.


EMPLOYEES CAN check the status of their Delta Dental claims at http://deltadentalil.com/ to see if they are among the claims being scheduled for payment. For inquiries regarding the hold/delay on dental claims, call (844) 350-4432. General dental plan customer service questions should be directed to 1 (800) 323-1743. See the notice to dentists at http://soi.deltadentalil.com/SOIUpdate201609.pdf .

IF YOU are experiencing extenuating circumstances due to a health insurance payment delay issues, first contact your health insurance plan for assistance. If not resolved, or if you are denied services, contact CMS at CMS.WebsiteBenefits@illinois.gov or 1 (800) 442-1300, selecting 1 at the first three prompts.

OTHER RESOURCES? KATIE ROSS, senior director of the U of I Human Resources Administration, points out a University website, which contains some news articles with the most recent information: www.hr.uillinois.edu/benefits/state_healthcare_update.

THE MYBENEFITS Marketplace website, which went live Sept. 30, may also help. MyBenefits Marketplace is the State’s new online system to provide self-service tools to assist employees with health, dental, and life insurance, and flexible spending account (MCAP/DCAP) plans. Employees can access this system through NESSIE or UI New Hire. Employees will use this system to enroll in or make changes to their state insurance benefits as a new hire, when experiencing a qualifying change in status (i.e., add/drop a dependent and other changes), or during the State’s annual Benefit Choice period.

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS or concerns regarding a claim payment? Contact the CMS Benefits Group Insurance at CMS.WebsiteBenefits@illinois.gov.

U of I officials and the University Office of Government Relations staff met with several legislators and senior officials in the governor’s office repeatedly this autumn. “Their meetings kept our employees’ access to healthcare at the forefront and encouraged the recent agreement for dental claim payments,” Ross said. “They have worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of faculty and staff on these important healthcare issues, and will continue to do so.”

“THERE HAVE been some good developments, not great, but something,” Ross said.

A NEW complication arose Nov. 15, when the Illinois Labor Relations Board declared an impasse between Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, the State’s largest employees’ union, on a new worker contract. With an impasse declared, the governor may unilaterally make decisions on healthcare coverage, and for health insurance, U of I employees’ health insurance is covered by the AFSCME contract. University employees do not have the option of going outside the State system to obtain health insurance, unless they provide proof of other non-state coverage.

“WE INTEND to appeal that ruling to the courts,” AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall said. The labor board and union urged Rauner to resume contract talks, and the union said it does not want to strike. The State council of AFSCME on Nov. 30 filed suit to stop Governor Rauner from imposing contract terms because he has declared negotiations deadlocked.

LACK OF a State budget continues to be a huge problem. Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly have restarted budget negotiations, but the election campaigns thwarted compromise. There is no sign the uncertainty will end any time soon.

RAUNER DEMANDS that lawmakers approve parts of his economic “Turnaround Agenda” before he agrees to a broader budget plan. Democrats say Rauner should bypass his proposed agenda for the time being so an agreement can be reached on a spending plan.

U of I President Timothy Killeen recently sent employees an email, saying: “Although the labor board ruling may be a noteworthy step in the process, it is impossible to predict with any certainty the end result and impact on University employee healthcare costs during this lengthy ongoing litigation and negotiation process.”

“IN THE meantime, U of I System leaders continue to voice concerns to state leaders, including advocating on behalf of faculty and staff about the State’s claim payment delay,” Killeen said. “Our efforts have helped spur some progress on dental claims, and we continue to vigorously oppose the State’s suggestion that it may collect premiums retroactively. These advocacy efforts will continue. I hope you will join our advocacy efforts, and I will continue to update you as the process unfolds.”

ROSS SAID, “Based on the public statements from both the State and AFSCME, we might expect to see some additional plan choices and potentially some level of cost increase to employees. However, actual changes are still unknown at this time, and are subject to the ongoing negotiations and any further ILRB proceedings.”

THERE HAS been speculation – acknowledged as a special notice in the 2017 Benefits Choice flyer –  that the State, if it raises employees’ contributions for healthcare coverage, may backdate that increase and demand premiums retroactively. The University has asked the State to begin charging new premiums only after employees have been given another opportunity to fully consider all plan options and any associated new costs.

AFSCME HAS not had a contract for its 40,000 members since July 2015. The union says employees covered by the top insurance plan would have to pay 100 percent more in health care in the first year of the contract, followed by up to ten percent increases per year. There are also no pay increases over the four-year term of the contract. Lindall called that a “pay cut,” which he said would amount to $10,000 lost over four years for the average employee and perhaps more for those with family coverage.  AFSCME has pushed for no increases in healthcare premiums for the first year followed by a 5% premium increase per year for the out-years of the contract.

THE STATE maintains that the 2012-1015 AFSCME contract, in aggregate, qualifies as a platinum healthcare plan.  But Lindall says that the vast majority of State employees are not opting to use the top coverage. Going forward, members may need to opt for cheaper plans to hold premiums in check and accept higher copays, Lindall indicated.


APs Nervous About Preservation of Notice Rights

By Susan S. Stevens
IN TROUBLED times, job security is a–if not the–top concern for all Academic Professionals. This security is being questioned.

PRESENT RULES regarding Notices of Non-Reappointment or Terminal “T-Contracts” for Academic Professional employees have been reviewed by University administrators.

WITH THE State deficit crisis, and after two years of partial funding from the State, a key reason for UI to make a change in notice rights would be to save money.

TOP UNIVERSITY spokesman Thomas Hardy in the Office of University Relations at the University of Illinois offered reassurance. “In times of fiscal crisis, a common and logical mantra is that ‘all options are on the table.’ I don’t believe there was any discussion that notice rights would be ‘terminated,’ and discussion of somehow lessening those notice provisions does not appear to be an option at this time.”

APS EXPRESSED concern during a Nov. 8 meeting of UIC’s Academic Professional Advisory Committee. One said notification rights are “one of our most valuable benefits.” Another termed it “a last vestige of what APs hold dear.” Others explained that APs can be discharged without reason or recourse. Notification of Appointments (NOAs) are already in place for 2016-17, so policy changes will not occur this year.

HERE IS what APs have now (contingent upon sources of funds):
·         Six-month notice for employees of less than four years in their post
·         One-year notice for employees with more than four years

A CHANGE to Article IX, Section 11 of the Statutes would need to occur, , following faculty review, Interim Associate Vice President for University Human Resources Jami Painter said.

U of I System President Tim Killeen said at a June UPPAC meeting that he highly values the AP role and is not ignoring it. However, he said, notification periods are long in comparison with other Big Ten schools, and a U of I task force was examining the issue. Painter noted that many other institutions allow themselves to declare financial exigency and shorten notice rights.

APAC CHAIR Colleen Piersen, also Assistant Head for Administration, said that UPPAC members were recently informed that the working group on notice rights had not convened since Spring Semester when it met several times. Moreover, the group was asked only to examine the situation, not take action.  Nonetheless, employees remain concerned as the state continues to restrict funding to institutions of higher education and layoffs and furloughs are considered or implemented at public universities statewide.

UNIVERITY OF Illinois at Urbana-Champaign employees who currently receive termination contracts may be eligible for an internal relocation program (http://cam.illinois.edu/ix/ix-c/ix-c-26.htm). Maureen Parks, former Associate Vice President for University Human Resourcesin University Administration, said it is a positive approach to the problem. UIC does not have a formal relocation program at this time.

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on scheduled dates. Meetings are held either in Room 270 of the College of Pharmacy Building, 833 S. Wood St., or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meetings are Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Pharmacy 270, and Tuesday, Jan 10, in UH 2750. For information, call (312) 413-9299.

APAC’s Tiffany Raber Wins Award

Tiffany Raber (left) with fellow BVIS award-winning students.
Biomedical Visualization (BVIS) Graduate Program student Tiffany Raber is the winner of a 2016 UIC Chancellor’s Graduate Research Award for her research that aims to increase understanding of prostate cancer pathology. Her research is currently on exhibit at the 2016 Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago Nov. 26 – Dec. 23. Raber is APAC’s graduate assistant. She is working on an MFA degree.

WEBSITES TO KNOW

THE ILLINOIS Atlas of Austerity shows the dire consequences of the State budget impasse. See http://www.illinoisausterityatlas.com/#sthash.9wVL8LpO.L21ojrLr.dpbs.

BENEFIT BEAT

Career Development Webinars Available
RECORDED WEBINARS from UIC Career Development Month are now posted. The links are available at https://www.hr.uic.edu/careermonth/. Click on the webinar title to launch its recording.
VISIT THESE web pages to explore information on the site and learn more about what you can do now to grow in your career.
QUESTIONS OR comments? Send an email to mycareeruic@uillinois.edu

THE CONTINUING CRISIS

Governor Bruce Rauner has been at the center of recent news
stories covering the State budget crisis. (Photo by Steve Vance.)
Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the State budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE union files lawsuit to stop Governor Rauner from imposing contract terms, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 1, 2016: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rauner-union-workers-lawsuit-20161201-story.html.
RAUNER SCORES big win over union on contract talks, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 16, 2016: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rauner-afscme-labor-board-met-20161115-story.html.
HIGHER ED employees may face furloughs, Illinois Public Media, Nov. 14, 2016: http://will.illinois.edu/news/story/education-desk-higher-ed-employees-may-face-furloughs.
UNIVERSITY HAS cut more than 500 jobs in last 18 months, News-Gazette, Oct. 6, 2016: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2016-10-06/ui-has-cut-more-500-jobs-last-18-months.html.
MANY PROFESSORS leaving Illinois, Crain’s Chicago Business, July 30, 2016: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20160730/ISSUE01/307309989/why-are-so-many-professors-moving-out-of-illinois.
LABOR BOARD denies Governor Rauner’s request to expedite union case, State Journal-Register, July 7, 2016:  http://bit.ly/29lrGby.

Vol. 9, No. 3 December 2016

APAC News is published by the Academic Professional Advisory Committee of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Susan S. Stevens
Chair: Colleen Piersen
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Kimberly Mayfield
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar