August 27, 2013

August 2013 APAC News Vol. 6, No. 8

Go Ahead and Submit Flexible Spending Claims; Don’t Wait for Slow-Paying State to Release Payments

Use Your FSA benefits before it's too late!
By Susan S. Stevens

EMPLOYEES MAY need to do a simultaneous “two-step” toward receiving reimbursement for medical insurance claims. Do not go step-by-step, because that can result in loss of flexible spending dollars.

KATIE ROSS, Human Resources Administration director for the University of Illinois, reports continued delays in State reimbursements.

STATE FINANCIAL problems, with no end in sight, have caused significant delays in reimbursing health-care providers—who in turn delay reimbursing UIC employees for medical claims that they might have been required to pay upfront at the time of service. Further, Ross reported, “If employees wait until their medical claim payment is received before submitting their Flexible Spending Account (FSA)/Medical Care Assistance Plan (MCAP) claim for reimbursement, then they will risk submitting the FSA claim (claims incurred July 1, 2013 through September 15, 2014) after September 30, 2014, which is the end of the run-out period, in other words the ‘use it or lose it’ date.”

HOWEVER, EMPLOYEES can work around part of that delay to avoid losing their FSA money. Rather than waiting for the State and insurers, go ahead and file with your FSA/MCAP to recover out-of-pocket expenses, said Kathleen Stauffer, Assistant Dean for Administration in UIC’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

Ross reminds employees that they need to have a copy of their health plan claim determination or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from their service provider to submit to WageWorksâ, the FSA administrator, so that WageWorksâ knows what amount insurance is going to pay and what amount the employee will owe.

HERE’S HOW Stauffer does it. When she gets an Explanation of Benefits from CIGNA, her insurance carrier, she prints it out and sends it in with a claim to her FSA/MCAP plan. (The FSA/MCAP reduces your taxable income by allowing you to set aside a portion of your income for medical claim reimbursements.)

“THEY PRETTY much reimburse you right away,” Stauffer said. “You don’t have to wait.” You do not have to risk losing money; if you wait too long to submit to a flexible spending account, however, you may be past the time limit to be reimbursed.

“THE DELAY in payment of Quality Care Health Plan (QCHP) and Quality Care Dental Plan (QCDP) claims by the State is an ongoing issue,” Ross said.

“SOME OF us are waiting three years for the State to pay our providers,” Stauffer said. “I have never waited for the State to actually pay before filing” with a Flexible Spending Account. “Otherwise, I too would have lost money.”

ON AUG. 8, 2013, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) reported health claims were backlogged ten to 14 months. Claims processed through Oct. 22, 2012, had been released to QCHP-contracted providers. Claims processed through June 18, 2012, had been released to non-QCHP-contracted providers.

THOUGH THE stalls are mostly unabated, Ross tells of one bright light. “We have seen improvement, somewhat, in payment of dental claims,” she said. “The Non-Network dental claims are down to a 25-week delay now, as opposed to a 45-week delay on July 1. The shortest wait would be for using an In-Network dental provider, with a delay currently running about 11 weeks.”

FOR HELP if your healthcare provider is asking for payment in full upfront for major services you cannot afford, such as surgery, contact CMS by email at or call (217) 558-4486.

FOR INFORMATION on QCHP and QCDP claims payments being released:

A BLOG from March has more information, which Ross said has not changed much:

Moody’s Downgrades Bond Rating for U of I, Six other Universities

Moody's Downgrade
MOODY’S BOND-RATING agency has downgraded debt ratings for seven of Illinois’ eight public universities, including the University of Illinois. A Moody’s spokesperson also said the State’s fiscal and pension woes may cause further declines in the next 12 to 24 months.
THE UNIVERSITY of Illinois and the other universities rely heavily on funding from Illinois, which in June slid to Moody’s lowest bond rating in the nation and the lowest in Illinois’ history because of its underfunded pensions and record of slow payments of appropriated funds, Moody’s spokesman David Jacobson said.
A DOWNGRADE may make it more expensive for an institution to borrow, as a lower rating results in higher interest charges.
THE UNIVERSITIES involved in the downgrade besides the University of Illinois are Eastern Illinois University; Governors State University; Illinois State University; Northeastern Illinois University; Southern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University. Moody's issued no change in Northern Illinois' A3 rating.

Speed Networking Event Set

APAC WILL host a Speed Networking Event on Thursday, Sept. 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is aimed at bringing together APs interested in meeting their colleagues on campus, having a few minutes of one-on-one discussion to learn about what other APs are doing, and making new connections.

THIS EVENT will be held in the Molecular Biology Research Building (MBRB), Room 1152.

TO REGISTER, click or contact Donald Kamm at (312) 996-6424 or, or Uma Sriram at (312) 355-4935 or

Save the Date: October 14 Panel Featuring President Easter

President Robert Easter (right), with Provost Lon Kaufman.
President Robert Easter (right), with Provost Lon Kaufman.
THE UIC chapter of the State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA), UIC United, will be hosting its Fall Forum featuring University of Illinois President Robert Easter on Monday, Oct. 14 in the Student Center West. Other panelists are yet-to-be named. They will speak on timely topics of interest to all SURS members – current employees as well as retirees. Please save the date – registration will open soon and be promoted on PACADEMY.  Seating will be limited.

EASTER WAS appointed President-Designate of the University of Illinois in March 2012. Before becoming President, Easter spent his entire, nearly 40-year career as a senior administrator and faculty member on the University’s Urbana-Champaign campus. 

ALL SURS eligible faculty and staff are welcome to attend.

Governor Quinn Signs Employment First Act to Expand Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Governor Pat Quinn recently signed the Employment First Act.
Governor Pat Quinn recently signed the Employment First Act.
IN JULY, Governor Pat Quinn signed the “Employment First Act,” a new law that requires State of Illinois agencies to work together to make employment for people with disabilities a priority.

HOUSE BILL 2591 requires all State agencies to work together to make competitive employment for people with disabilities a priority and establish measurable goals and objectives for the State. The law requires the Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force (EEOPWD) to monitor progress towards this mission. This Task Force includes advocates, individuals with disabilities, business community members, disability services providers, representatives of State agencies and other stakeholders.

ALL STATE agencies will be required to share data and information and ensure all policies, procedures, and practices are aligned to these goals and objectives.

FOR INFORMATION, call (312) 814-2121.

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 September 11 in Room 2750 of University Hall. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

APAC Profile

APAC Member Ben Ramirez Fighting for AP Recognition

By Lucia Gonzalez

BEN RAMIREZ has worked at UIC for nine years as the Director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Facility in the Center for Structural Biology. Ramirez joined APAC because he felt that the roles and the value of Academic Professionals often are understated and underappreciated.

RAMIREZ’S MAIN responsibilities include maintaining the NMR instruments, coordinating the user schedule, training new users, and assisting with the implementation of new experiments. The instruments are used by UIC researchers to study molecules.

GROUPS IN Biochemistry use the NMR to study the structures and dynamics of proteins in solution. These groups also study how proteins interact with other proteins, biomolecules such as DNA, or small molecules.
“THE LATTER possibility is very exciting and very powerful, as this enables the potential discovery of novel therapeutic compounds,” Ramirez explained.

GROUPS IN Pharmacy use NMR to characterize and identify new small molecules—often referred to as natural products— with the goal of finding new therapeutics. Of course, there are various amounts of other research that is being conducted at UIC with NMR.

“WE ARE very fortunate here at UIC to have this instrumentation here on campus to be accessible to any researcher,” Ramirez said. “Our facility is equipped just as well as any other NMR facilities found in top-flight research institutions in this country.”

WHEN RAMIREZ first joined APAC, one of his first activities was being involved in serving on the search committee for the Vice Chancellor for Research. Ramirez considers this as a great learning experience that enabled him to meet with other UIC employees whom he may never have encountered in his typical work environment.

“BY BEING exposed to this small swath of UIC, one can begin to understand people’s different viewpoints,” Ramirez said. “This was also very illuminating and enriching.”

RAMIREZ GAINS a good deal of satisfaction in being able to use and share his knowledge and training to help shape and hone future researchers. His greatest hope is that his involvement with APAC yields improvements in job quality and stability for all APs. He would like to see more recognition and attention paid to APs involved in basic research, many of whom are at the front lines of research and contribute vastly to the UIC research enterprise.

“WHEN CHALLENGING economic or financial times arise, APs are often perceived as the most expendable,” mentioned Ramirez. “This group should also be recognized for their role in educating and training.”

BESIDES HIS research with NMR, Ramirez is engaged in several other collaborative research projects. Most of his time is spent with his wife, Sandra, and their two young daughters, ages 5 and 8. He enjoys outdoor activities such as biking and hiking. While at home he likes to cook, especially tinkering with recipes and adding his own twist and a personal touch. Ramirez particularly enjoys baking cookies at Christmastime to give to friends and family.



UIC has modern recreation facilities.
UIC has modern recreation facilities.
UIC Offers Recreation Opportunities

WANT TO get some exercise or get in better shape? UIC has recreation facilities on both the East and West sides of campus that offer everything from Zumba and intramural sports to swimming, massage therapy, a climbing wall, and personal training, as well as an outdoor field complex and outdoor recreation courts for tennis, sand volleyball, basketball, jogging, and more.

SPECIAL FACULTY/STAFF and Family memberships are available.

THE SPORT and Fitness Center is located at 828 S. Wolcott St. Call (312) 413-5260. The Student Recreation Facility is located at 737 S. Halsted St. Call (312) 413-5150. The Bowling and Billiards Center is at Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St. Call (312) 413-5170. For more information, log on to


Tyrone Fahner of the Civic Committee.
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.

CIVIC COMMITTEE members work to talk down State bond rating to force pension cuts. See Progress Illinois, Aug. 5:

Vol. 6, No. 8, August 2013

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