June 27, 2013

June 2013 APAC News Vol. 6, No. 6

Flexible Spending Accounts Undergo Changes

By Monica M. Walk

A NAME change and a revised healthcare debit card mark a new system for handling employee Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) in the Medical Care Assistance Plan (MCAP). The administrator name and system changes also apply to the Dependent Care Assistance Plan (DCAP); the debit card changes apply only to MCAP.

BEGINNING MONDAY, July 1, FSA accounts will be processed by WageWorks, which purchased the FSA account business from former plan administrator Fringe Benefit Management Company.  WageWorks technically has been the State’s FSA plan administrator since purchasing the business several years ago, but is now officially converting the State accounts to the WageWorks system.

CONVERSION TO the new system will include a two-week hold period for Fiscal Year 2013 claims being made by paper reimbursement request. Fiscal Year 2013 ends June 30.

“CMS ADVISED that either they or WageWorks would send a letter to all current FY2013 members in June letting them know about the hold period and transition,” said Carole Devaney, UPB benefits manager, University Payroll & Benefits Services.

WHILE THE current myFBMC and future WageWorks healthcare debit cards can be used by employees to pay for eligible healthcare expenses on-site at the time of appointments and purchases, claims being processed by paper will be subject to the holding period.

“FY 2013 paper claim forms will be subject to a two-week hold period from July 1 through July 15 during the transition to WageWorks,” said Katie Ross, director, Human Resources Administration, University Human Resources. “FY2013 debit card transactions during this hold period could be inadvertently reimbursed from FY2014 accounts and would require the employee’s action to request an adjustment to correct this with WageWorks. It is in employees’ best interest to submit paper claim forms for any FY 2013 reimbursements during the hold period.”

THE CURRENT myFBMC card will continue to work through June 30, 2013; however, employees electing to re-enroll for the new plan year will need to use the new WageWorks debit card beginning July 1.

THE FSA debit card system removes much previously required paperwork, although some transactions require documentation.

“IF YOU use the card at a healthcare provider or pharmacy for an amount that is not a known copayment, or the merchant does not have an Inventory Information Approval System (IIAS) in place, WageWorks will most likely require that you submit a receipt or explanation of benefits form,” Devaney said. “IIAS enables merchants to verify FSA-eligible purchases at the register, eliminating the need for members to submit receipts. WageWorks will notify members of any card transactions that require attention by email and when members log onto their system.”

THE STATE of Illinois Medical Care Assistance Plan allows employees to set aside up to $208.33/month ($277.77/month for University employees paid over nine months), tax free, for eligible medical care expenses. Money in this plan can be used to cover the cost of medical expenses that are not paid by health, dental or vision insurance, such as deductibles, co-payments, and eligible non-covered expenses. 

Mentors, Proteges Needed

UNDER THE direction of the Office for Access and Equity (OAE), a volunteer committee with members from APAC and the Chancellor's Status Committees has announced the Fall 2013 Administrative Professional Mentoring Program, or APMP, a mentoring program for Academic Professionals and Civil Service staff at UIC. See http://www.uic.edu/depts/oae/APMP/APMP_home.html for information.

THE PROGRAM allows Academic Professionals and Civil Service staff the opportunity for professional development, advancement, and leadership and skills development in their careers. It will run from the beginning of September through May 31, 2014. A kick-off event for all participants will be held in mid-September, with the date TBD at this time.

AHLAM AL-KODMANY, APAC Vice Chair, has participated in the APMP in the past and commented, “It’s a great program because it brings together professionals from different backgrounds—work, ethnic, racial, and cultural—to exchange ideas on how we can improve in professional development, skill set, conflict management, graduate/professional degree pursuit, and home/life balance. Whether mentor or mentee, we all learn from each other.”

THE APMP committee is accepting applications for mentors and protégés through Monday, July 1. There is a greater need for mentors in the program. If you are interested in becoming a mentor and/or a protégé for the first time or participating in program again, visit the APMP website and complete an application:

IF YOU have questions, contact the committee at apmp_committee@uic.edu.

CIVIL SERVICE employees must have their supervisor’s approval before joining the program.

Brenda Russell Becomes UIC United President; Fights to Protect Pensions

Brenda Russell, PhD, new President of UIC United, the UIC chapter of SURS,
and her husband, Jack Cooksey, MD.
By Lucia Gonzalez

BRENDA RUSSELL, Professor Emerita, Physiology and Biophysics, has been elected President of the UIC United chapter of the State University Annuitants Association (SUAA). This organization is for anyone who has ever paid into the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). The goals of UIC United are to push for fairness for UIC employees and retirees concerning retirement benefits, including taking legal action with coalition partners or independently when unconstitutional or adverse legislation is proposed that could diminish or impair promised benefits.
RUSSELL JOINED UIC United in hopes of protecting the pension plans of all UIC employees. She retired two years ago mainly to ensure her pension plan would be protected, as she did not trust the political system to protect her or other SURS members. “I am rehired to continue my NIH-funded research, so I see the current situation first hand,” explained Russell. “I am very concerned about the fiscal crisis in Illinois, with the resulting cuts to both higher education and the attack on State pensions.”

AT THE moment, UIC United is trying to give information to SURS members about their pensions and is encouraging everyone to contact his or her own Illinois Senator or Representative in the Illinois House. “We don’t tell people what to say,” Russell said, “but we do want them to express their opinion directly to their own elected officials. Future votes matter.”

RUSSELL HOPES there will be fairness for UIC employees. “The State employees should not be paying an unfair load for past fiscal mismanagement in Illinois, which now has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states,” Russell explained. Currently, $9 out of $10 of Illinois General Fund spending is going towards four core services: education, health care, human services, and public safety. “Spending on pensions may mean devastating cuts for our most basic public services,” Russell said. “I understand that is why some feel pensions should be targeted, but that’s the wrong solution. My own opinion is that the State needs to raise revenue because we cannot cut our way out of the fiscal mess without doing serious harm to the pensions and to UIC’s State funding.”

BESIDES PENSION cuts, health care is another major concern for SURS members. The Senate plan proposed by Senate President John Cullerton offers a potential choice between cost of living increases and health insurance for retirees. “Health care is a fast moving situation, especially as Obamacare will start January 2014,” Russell said, noting that the potential impact of this legislation is unclear at this point.

DURING A recent survey of UIC United members, it was reinforced that they wanted information that they can trust about pensions and benefits. “We are starting a quarterly newsletter and will have bulletins any time hot news or immediate action is required,” Russell announced. The events that UIC United holds will be focused on the pension issues.

IT IS important to note that the UIC United chapter of SUAA and the faculty union, also called “UIC United,” are not the same thing, she said. “Our word ‘united’ is to register the fact that we are uniting current employees and those who are retired,” explained Russell. Anyone who is an employee and is currently paying into SURS is eligible to join.

MEMBERSHIP IS easy as it takes five minutes and can be completed online. “Membership is affordable—it costs less than Netflix—and can be set up to be automatically deducted from your paycheck,” Russell said. One can join via the UIC United website, www.uic.edu/orgs/suaa/applicat.html. The application can be printed, completed, and mailed with a $42 check to the SUAA office. The application also can be completed online through the SUAA website, www.suaa.org.

TO CONTACT Russell directly with questions or to share concerns, e-mail Russell@uic.edu.

Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award Nominations Due in June

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares once again is sponsoring the CAPE Awards.
THE CHANCELLOR’S Academic Professional Excellence Award (CAPE) acknowledges the demonstrated excellence of Academic Professional employees (APs). The CAPE Award, sponsored by Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, honors the contributions of individual staff members and encourages the professional growth and achievement of APs at UIC. Each winner of the CAPE Award receives a $1,000 permanent salary increase, a certificate and a pin. The names of the winners are added to the CAPE plaque on the first floor of University Hall. In addition, a $2,000 one-time cash award is given to each recipient.

THE DEADLINE for receipt of nominations and all supporting credentials is noon on Friday, June 28, 2013. The CAPE awards will be presented in November at a reception as part of the UIC Employee Recognition Week.  2013 Nomination forms are available at the APACwebsite page about CAPE. If you have any questions, please contact Ahlam Al-Kodmany, Chair of the 2013 CAPE Selection Committee, at ryyan@uic.edu or at (312) 996-7458.

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 July 10 in Room 2750 of University Hall. For information, call (312) 996-0306.


APAC DOCUMENT archive: https://sites.google.com/site/uicapac/documents.


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 PENSIONS rebound from recession. See Marketplace, May 20: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/public-pension-funds-rebound-recession.
‘STATE OF denial’ over true amount of UI financial reserves? See News-Gazette, June 9: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2013-06-09/state-denial-over-true-amount-ui-financial-reserves.html

Vol. 6, No. 6 June 2013

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