April 24, 2013

April 2013 APAC News Vol. 6, No. 4

Open Enrollment May Provide Alternatives to Long Wait for Insurance Payments

By Monica M. Walk

OPEN ENROLLMENT may provide the antidote to some University employees’ health insurance woes.

UIC EMPLOYEES enrolled in the Quality Care Health Plan (QCHP) have been experiencing significant delays in payments to healthcare providers, leading some healthcare providers to demand payment for services up front. Having to pre-pay out of pocket for covered services means employees are the ones left waiting months for reimbursement.

“IT’S NOT new,” said Human Resources Administration Director Katie Ross, Ed.M., PHR, University Human Resources, of the late payments. “It’s a function of the State’s dire funding situation, and has been going on for a few years regarding payment from some medical plans. The longer it goes on, the more of an issue it becomes. People can accept it for a while, but the longer it goes on the less able people are to wait for reimbursement.”

QUALITY CARE health and dental plans are experiencing the most significant delays in the State Employees’ Group Insurance Program. The Department of Central Management Services (CMS) has a website reporting payment release dates to providers, which shows claims dated approximately a year ago are now being processed and paid. The site has been reporting such delayed payment release dates since 2009.

Other Options
BUT, THERE are other health care plans and other options for employees, Ross said.  Employees can make plan changes only once annually during open enrollment. UIC annual open enrollment for health care benefits begins Wednesday, May 1 and ends Friday, May 31; plan choices are effective July 1.

ROSS ADVISES employees to review their health care needs now to determine if they have flexibility on health care providers, which makes it easier to switch to another plan option.

“ALMOST ALL counties have at least one HMO option, and they are not experiencing the same payment issues,” Ross said.  “In the HMO, a co-pay is paid up front and the healthcare provider waits for payment from the State. There is less burden on the employee.”

IN AN HMO, a primary care provider directs all care, including referrals to specialists.  Ross acknowledges that some people don’t like this system. “Some people require the services of specific doctors for their personal health issues,” she said.

EVERY COUNTY also has an Open Access Plan (OAP), which offers a tiered benefit structure. “It’s a newer option, and combines the best of HMOs and Quality Care,” Ross said. 

THE OAP generally offers three tiers of benefits, and users pay based on which tier the practitioner is in. Tier One is most similar to an HMO with a co-pay and can be very attractive to employees, Ross commented. Tiers Two and Three offer the flexibility to see out-of-network providers at a higher out-of-pocket cost similar to Quality Care.  But unlike in a traditional HMO, OAP enrollees can go to a specialist without a referral.

It’s the Law
STATE LAW requires University employees to participate in State group health plans, Ross noted, making self-insurance and other insurance options impossible. “We are locked into it,” she said. Students are exempt from the law and have separate coverage.

EMPLOYEE DENTAL coverage under the Quality Care Dental Plan is also having similar payment delays. 

“THE STATE has only one dental plan, so there is no opportunity to switch,” Ross said.  “You are either in or out. But dentists are approaching the situation in a variety of ways and some will wait for reimbursement. Others won’t wait and will require payment of the full amount for services up front, and the employee will have to wait for reimbursement.  Employees may want to shop around for a network dentist who doesn’t require payment up front.”

CMS Advocacy
EMPLOYEES WHO find themselves in financial hardship due to payment delays or up-front payment requests for major medical services are urged to contact CMS. “CMS has been very helpful in coordinating with providers and will advocate on employees’ behalf,” Ross said.

CONTACT DETAILS, including the CMS online form to report hardship, are available from the HR NESSIE website. Links from http://illinois.edu/blog/view/1418/90794 contain especially useful information.

“THE UNIVERSITY certainly empathizes with employees,” Ross said.  “We HR and Benefits representatives are in the same health care plans and are experiencing the same issues. It is an unfortunate situation created by the State funding situation.”

OPEN ENROLLMENT vendor fairs are being held in April and May; see http://www2.illinois.gov/cms/Employees/benefits/StateEmployee/Documents/FY%202014%20Benefit%20Fairs.pdf for location details. University benefits services centers also are located on each campus and benefits specialists are available to help employees navigate benefits choices.

FOR MORE information, call (312) 996-6471 or email benefits@uillinois.edu.

Presidents, Chancellors Back IGPA Pension Reform Plan

“Our desire is that the conversations underway in Springfield result in a
pension program for SURS that is sustainable, competitive with
the programs offered by our peer public research universities, and provides
retirement security for employees and retirees,” President Robert Easter wrote.
THE PRESIDENTS and Chancellors of the State's 14 public universities have endorsed a six-point plan recently published by the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) as Six Simple Steps: Reforming the Illinois State University Retirement System.

THIS UNANIMOUS agreement on how to address the pension crisis as it applies to the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) was conveyed to Governor Patrick Quinn and the four legislative leaders in a letter in April.

“WE LOOK forward to working with you and the others in the General Assembly to translate these ideas into legislation," the letter said, a reiteration of the Presidents' and Chancellors' collective willingness to participate in a process toward a solution that is "financially prudent and consistent with the principles of constitutionality, fairness, and equity."

The PACKAGE of steps described in Six Simple Steps: Reforming the Illinois State University Retirement System is a viable option for SURS, the university Presidents and Chancellors agreed.

THE IGPA position paper is online (http://igpa.uillinois.edu/node/1753), as is the letter from the Presidents and Chancellors (http://tinyurl.com/pensionletter). A summary of current legislative proposals prepared by SURS can be found at http://www.surs.org/pdfs/advocate/legislativeadvocateapril2013.pdf  and http://www.surs.org/legislation.

THE SIX points of the plan are as follows:

  • Change the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to link it to the consumer price index.
  • Rationalize administrative rules for calculating the rate of interest used to determine a range of benefits, refunds, and service credits that is set each year by the SURS Board and the State Comptroller.
  • Over a period of time, shift responsibility for paying a portion of the annual pension cost of SURS to universities and colleges.
  • Increase contributions by Tier I participants from eight percent to ten percent of pay over a two-year period in exchange for granting the appropriate legal rights to participants to hold the State accountable for its funding commitments.
  • Require the State to agree to a schedule of payments to steadily reduce SURS' unfunded liability.  
  • Replace the Tier II plan for new employees with a new "hybrid" plan for new employees that combines features of both defined-benefit and defined-contribution programs.

“IN THE letter to the Governor and legislative leaders we have acknowledged and accepted the additional financial burdens of paying a portion of the normal cost,” said President Robert Easter in an April 9 e-mail.

“THE COST shift will be feasible only if phased in slowly, as recommended in the paper, and made concurrent with a stabilization of general revenue appropriations during the transition," the Presidents’ and Chancellors’ letter asserted. "We also realize that linking cost of living adjustment to the CPI will reduce retiree earnings in the short term. But this change also provides long-term insurance against high inflation, a valuable benefit for participants."

“ONE CANNOT predict the outcome of the pension funding issue in this legislative session, but I believe the State's public universities throughout the process have contributed reliable information and options that are consistent with principles espoused by the Presidents and Chancellors,” President Easter wrote. “Our desire is that the conversations underway in Springfield result in a pension program for SURS that is sustainable, competitive with the programs offered by our peer public research universities, and provides retirement security for employees and retirees.”

Campus Policy for Primary Source Verification to Go Into Effect

UIC HUMAN Resources Policy #325, Primary Source Verification (PSV) for Professional Licensure, will go into effect Wednesday, May 1.

PRIMARY SOURCE Verification of licensure requires that proper documentation be submitted during the onboarding process for new employees or whenever a change in work status occurs. The Joint Commission (TJC; formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations/JCAHO) and Illinois laws require licensure of care practitioners holding specified job titles or engaged in job duties related to patient care.

PATIENT CARE, research, and informal rotation to clinical practice areas occur frequently as part of the academic and professional mission of the University. Therefore, consistency in compliance cannot be limited to the hospital alone. Compliance must be met by all health science colleges, the Hospital and Health Sciences System, the College of Social Work, and the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

PROPER DOCUMENTATION of PSV is essential to maintaining compliance with The Joint Commission and all Illinois regulations. Failure to appropriately verify licenses with the primary source prior to hire date, start date of change in job duties, or license renewal jeopardizes UIC’s accreditation. Additionally, failure to comply threatens reimbursement for patient care from Medicaid and Medicare. 

UPON REQUEST, in-person compliance facilitation may be made available. To schedule a facilitated department session, contact Marilyn Lablaiks, Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Compliance at (312) 996-1232 or lablaiks@uic.edu. You may also contact Lablaiks with any questions you may have on the policy.

FOR ADDITIONAL information regarding relevant UIC Human Resources policies, titles and positions requiring PSV, or to see a tutorial of the onboarding process, see one the following:

*A copy of UIC HR Policy #325 will be available on the UIC Human Resources website:

*Titles and position classes requiring Primary Source Verification are available at the following link: http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/quicklinks/LicensePCLASS.pdf;

*An onboarding process tutorial is available at the following link:

*For further information, including primary source website links, see the compliance section of the UIC Human Resources website:

APAC Elections

SIX NEW members have joined APAC for three-year terms. They are John Brach, Director of Human Resources, Institute for Health Research and Policy; Jean Fitzpatrick, Director, Business Operations, Pulmonary, Critical Care, Sleep and Allergy; Elizabeth Hawes, Assistant Director of Human Resources, Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Donald Kamm, Assistant Director, Office for Access and Equity; Nester Komolafe, Contract Coordinator, Business Development Services, Office of Business and Financial Services; and Margaret Moser, Director, Administrative Operations, Office of the Vice President for Health Affairs.

RETAINING THEIR seats and beginning a new term are William S. Bike, Director of Advancement and Alumni Affairs Communications, and Virginia Buglio, Associate Director of Research Services, both UIC College of Dentistry. Bike also is an AP Senator in the University Senate.

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 5175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is May 8 in Room 2750 of University Hall. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

Mary Berta is APAC’s New Secretary

Mary Berta
By Lucia Gonzalez
MARY BERTA, who has worked at UIC for almost 20 years, has been appointed as the new APAC Secretary.
BERTA WORKED fora 12 years in the University Library and has been in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Applied Health Sciences for over seven years, serving as Assistant to the Head. She has always worked in the areas of finance, human resources, and grants management.

“I REALLY like the variety of duties and being able to work with so many different people,” Berta said. “I enjoy helping people do their jobs whether it’s assisting with a grant proposal, hiring new employees, ordering equipment, or paying consultants. No two days are alike and that’s what keeps things interesting.”
LAST FALL, Berta started attending a few APAC meetings and realized that she really liked what APAC was doing and wanted to join to help the committee in whatever way she could. “It’s a great group of people,” Berta said. “Everyone is very engaged in representing Academic Professionals on campus and everyone really cares about UIC.”

CURRENTLY, THE role of the secretary is being revised, with an assistant now taking meeting minutes, freeing Berta up for other duties. Berta is active in general APAC and APAC Executive Committee meetings. “I would like to be involved in outreach,” Berta explained, “bringing in more APAC members and working with other organizations on campus, as well as helping to organize events. There are other organizations on campus that have the same concerns that APAC does and it would be great to collaborate with them on events that are important to all UIC employees.” She also is a voice for the Applied Health Sciences College on APAC.

“I HOPE to bring some ideas to the group about enhancing the work experience for employees and contributing to the University mission,” Berta concluded.

FOR MORE information, contact Berta at mberta@uic.edu.


Professional Development Courses Set
REGISTRATION IS available for these instructor-led learning opportunities from UIC Human Resources Organizational Effectiveness.

BUSINESS WRITING Fundamentals is a three-hour course for employees interested in a refresher on basic writing rules. This course is full of activities designed to provide guidelines for planning, organizing, drafting, and editing documents. Tuesday, May 7, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

CUSTOMER SERVICE Fundamentals discusses the elements of good customer service that can make a difference in the workplace. The interactive course explores the impact of customer service at UIC and provides information on actions that can be taken to exceed customer expectations. Thursday, May 16, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

PRESENTATION FUNDAMENTALS: Speaking Skills provides participants an opportunity to discuss public speaking techniques and then demonstrate by delivering a presentation and receiving real time feedback. Wednesday, June 5, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

STRUCTURED BEHAVIORAL Interviewing is packed with information for hiring officials to apply immediately in their effort to select “best fit” job candidates. Monday, May 13, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE Review Process will review the steps in the Employee Performance Review Process. Forms and tools available to assist employees through the process are shared. Thursday, May 2, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

LEADERSHIP ESSENTIALS is a two-day workshop designed to provide new managers and supervisors with information required to function in their role more effectively. The training includes a pre-session assessment tool, facilitated discussions about managing work teams at UIC, detailed information about application of key HR policies and post-session management tools. Course is held on two consecutive Wednesdays; you must attend both days to complete the course. Cost: $200. Wednesdays, May 15 and 22, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

RESULTS ORIENTED Communication is a half-day instructor-led course is designed to provide tools and techniques to encourage communication that will position managers to achieve results in the workplace. During this session, building credibility, delivering clear and concise guidance to teams and focusing on the end goal before creating messages will be explored. Wednesday, May 29, 1:30–4:30 p.m.

REGISTER FOR the above sessions by visiting the MyCareer website: http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/mycareer/ Select UIC Training Providers on the left navigation menu and select View L:istings under UIC-HR for all courses provided by Human Resources and Organizational Effectiveness and then click the Register/View link under the course name to register.

LOCATION FOR all courses is: Human Resources Building (HRB) 715 S. Wood St., Room 205.

QUESTIONS AND comments may be directed to mycareeruic@uillinois.edu


Cell Phone Discounts Available
EMPLOYEES ARE eligible for a number of discounts on cell phones.
SOME BUSINESSES provide a discount code that you can use on their website, or provide over the phone.  Other businesses require you to contact them directly for the discount - in order for them to identify the discount you qualify for, you may need to let them know:
  • You are a University of Illinois at Chicago employee
  • You are a State of Illinois employee
  • You are a government employee
  • You are employed at "Big Ten" University
  • You are staff/student/faculty at the University
CELL PHONE deals are available from AT&T, http://www.att.com/, discount code 2596528; Sprint, http://www.sprint.com/, discount code UOIDISCOUNT; U.S. Cellular, http://www.uscellular.com/, call for discount; and Verizon, http://verizon.com/, http://tinyurl.com/3dxercz, call for discount.

Discounts for APs for Olympic Sabre Fencing

THE ABSOLUTE Fencing Gear Korfanty World Cup is a three-day, international fencing tournament comprised of more than 300 of the world’s best sabre fencers that will be held at UIC Friday, May 3, through Sunday, May 5.

MALE AND female athletes from more than 30 countries including Italy, France, Poland, the U.S., South Korea, and China will compete on the campus.

ACADEMIC PROFESSIONALS and other UIC personnel can get discount tickets for only $2 by showing a valid UIC ID at the door. Schedule is as follows:

FRIDAY, MAY 3: Individual Preliminary Competition, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Physical Education Building.

SATURDAY, MAY 4: Individual Direct Elimination (Top 64 to Finals), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Bronze/Gold Medal Bouts, 5 to 9 p.m., Flames Athletic Center.

SUNDAY, MAY 5: Team Competitions (Top 16 to Finals), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Physical Education Building and Flames Athletic Center; Bronze/Gold Medal Bouts, 5 to 9 p.m., Flames Athletic Center.

LOG ON to www.sabreworldcup.com for more information.


The constitutionality of State Senator Daniel Biss’s pension reform plan is in question.
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.

THE PENSION Crisis: Where Do We Go From Here? See UIC Retirement Matters, April 3: http://uicretirement.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-pension-crisis-where-do-we-go-from.html

Vol. 6, No. 4 April 2013

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Lucia Gonzalez, Gail Mansfield, Monica M. Walk
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Chair: Michael Moss
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Virginia Buglio
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar