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.

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 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 .

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 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:

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

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 ( 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.


THE ILLINOIS Atlas of Austerity shows the dire consequences of the State budget impasse. See


Career Development Webinars Available
RECORDED WEBINARS from UIC Career Development Month are now posted. The links are available at 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


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:
RAUNER SCORES big win over union on contract talks, Chicago Tribune, Nov. 16, 2016:
HIGHER ED employees may face furloughs, Illinois Public Media, Nov. 14, 2016:
UNIVERSITY HAS cut more than 500 jobs in last 18 months, News-Gazette, Oct. 6, 2016:
MANY PROFESSORS leaving Illinois, Crain’s Chicago Business, July 30, 2016:
LABOR BOARD denies Governor Rauner’s request to expedite union case, State Journal-Register, July 7, 2016:

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

June 15, 2016

June 2016 APAC News Vol. 9, No. 2

Health Insurance Premiums Could Rise Suddenly; Higher Rates May be Charged Retroactively

THE POSSIBILITY of drastic changes to healthcare insurance plans, including a sudden rise in the cost of premiums and retroactive higher premiums, could occur as a result of Governor Bruce Rauner’s negotiations with the union that represents State employees, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The plans and prices that Rauner and AFSCME agree on will affect University of Illinois employees and their families, because they receive their insurance through the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS).

“THE GOVERNOR’S current proposals either significantly increase costs or significantly decrease plan quality,” said Janet Smith, President of UIC United Faculty.

IN AN April 4 memo from CMS, Michael M. Hoffman, Acting Director of CMS, wrote, “…we will be suspending the roll-out of new premium rates and plan designs until early Fall” when, “…a second Benefit Choice Period with new plans and rates would then take place…”

IN ANOTHER recent memo from CMS, it “unbelievably says that when the new plans go into effect, we will be retroactively charged an unknown amount based on the plans we chose,” Smith said.

THAT MEMO says, “Personnel should be aware that these premiums may be subject to an increase, pending the outcome of an ongoing legal dispute between the State and AFSCME and that this premium increase may be applied retroactively to July 1, 2016. In other words, once the legal dispute is resolved, a higher premium likely will apply—not only going forward, but also for the period from July 1, 2016, to the date of the increase.”

APAC, THE UIC United Faculty, the University Senate, and the Staff Advisory Council worked with President Timothy Killeen, and the result was a University Task Force that will make recommendations to the President on how to proceed.

UIC UNITED Faculty is working with an attorney who “believes that the Governor’s proposed changes violate the State Employees Group Insurance Act and Illinois Labor Law,” Smith said. “If we are asked to pay for our healthcare retroactively, we will take the issue to court.”

FOR MORE information, email

How Higher Education Improves the Economy

WHY IS it a good investment for the State of Illinois to fund its institutions of higher education, including UIC? The State Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) provides some talking points that we all can use when advocating for higher ed and UIC with our State Representatives, State Senators, and Governor Bruce Rauner, or when making to case to friends, neighbors, or anyone on why the State of Illinois should adequately fund higher education. 
  • Businesses look for and locate in communities that have quality higher education opportunities.
  • Often the institution of higher education is the communitys largest employer.
  • Higher education employees purchase or rent housing; and employees purchase goods and services locally, supporting employment in grocery stores, restaurants, home repair businesses, gas stations, mom and pop stores, and on and on and on.
  • Universities contract out in their local areas for a variety of products and services (construction projects, printing services, food venders, etc.) providing employment in local communities.
  • Higher education employees pay taxes to support local governments, public schools, police and fire services, snow removal, etc., generating jobs in local communities.
  • Students graduate and often locate in the community. Some of these educated individuals create small businesses; and as these businesses grow, they hire additional employees.
UIC EMPLOYEES are urged to do what they can to increase public awareness of the importance of higher education to Illinois and to local communities within the State, and to advocate for higher education funding wherever possible.

APAC Officers, Committee Chairs Named

Colleen Piersen has been re-elected as Chair of APAC.
THE ACADEMIC Professional Advisory Committee has chosen its officers for the 2016-2017 year.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE members are: Chair, Colleen Piersen; Vice-Chair, Ahlam Al-Kodmany; Secretary, Mary Berta; and Treasurer, Kimberly Mayfield.

MEMBERS OF subcommittees are: Building Community/Education, Tracy Sikorski, Mary Berta, and Jennifer Pletka; Communications, William S. Bike; Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence (CAPE), Ahlam Al-Kodmany; Professional Development, Julie Kong (Co-Chair), Kimberly Mayfield (Co-Chair), and Tracy Sikorski; Representation, Michael Moss; Bylaws, Nester Komolafe; University Professional Personnel Advisory Committee (UPPAC), Ahlam Al-Kodmany, Collen Piersen, Kathy Stauffer, and Tracy Sikorski (alternate); Statue Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA), Ben Ramirez; and Grievance, John Brach.

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 4175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is Tuesday, July 12, in UH 2750. For information, call (312) 413-9299.


Tiffany Raber, with one of her award-winning works of art-
a self-portrait done in ink pen on grey art board.
Tiffany Raber Illustrates a Clearer Picture of APAC
TIFFANY RABER, who is working on her MFA in Biomedical Visualization at the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, is APAC’s graduate assistant. In this role, she is required to “wear many hats, based on need,” she noted.

RABER CREATES documents for the APAC monthly meetings, including the agenda and minutes, and monitors the PACADEMY listserv. “When needed, I also work with the APAC website and assist APAC with basically anything they could use an extra hand with,” she said. “I’m here to act as an extra resource for anybody related to APAC.”

ONE OF her goals is to “help spread the word about APAC to more Academic Professionals, and even students,” Raber said. “This is a great organization and also very beneficial. I would like to be the main source of communication who helps make others more aware of the benefits of APAC. I plan on doing this by helping with marking visuals including the website, flyers, logos, and more.”

BIOMEDICAL VISUALIZATION, traditionally termed medical illustration, is a niche professional field with a broad spectrum of possible concentrations. A biomedical visualization professional is responsible for creating scientifically accurate visuals to help with better comprehension of a difficult scientific and/or medical concept. “Thanks to technology, this can be communicated by pencil and paper, animation, 3D modeling, and even virtual reality,” Raber explained.

“MY GRADUATE degree program is very intensive and doesn’t allow me to deviate from my studies often,” Raber said. “But one interest I cannot give up is working out. I have been an athlete my entire life and ran Division I track and field—400-meter hurdles—in college. Almost every morning I work out bright and early to allow myself some ‘me time’ before beginning the day.”

RABER EARNED a BS in Biology and a BFA in Drawing from Ball State University in 2014. To contact her, email


Be a Mentor or Mentee
APPLICATIONS FOR the 2016-2017 Staff Leadership Mentor Program (SLMP) are being accepted now until Friday, June 24, at through UIC Human Resources.

THE STAFF Leadership Mentor Program is a structured mentorship program that matches mentors and mentees and provides guidance and support over the course of a year. This program develops the careers of individual employees and strengthens UIC's organizational continuity through knowledge-sharing and employee engagement.  All Academic Professional and Civil Service employees are welcome to participate in the mentoring program as a mentor or mentee, or both. About 60 minutes a month is all it takes to keep your skills fresh and to help yourself and others grow.

VISIT THE website to apply, to get more details about SLMP, or to peruse mentoring resources.

THE UNIVERSITY gets more mentee applications than mentor applications. You do not have to be an expert with many years of experience to share your knowledge, experiences, and guidance. If you have been in your field for two or more years, please consider being a mentor.


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.

HIGHER EDUCATION in Illinois is dying: New York Times, June 3, 2016:

NONPROFIT AND university workers need overtime, too, Progress Report, June 1, 2016:

STUDENTS OF color take biggest hit in Illinois higher education funding crisis: Chicago Reporter, May 12, 2016:

GOVERNOR APPOINTS conservative to represent faculty on IBHE: Academe Blog, April 24, 2016:

ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS propose measures to fund struggling universities during budget impasse: Progress Illinois, April 20, 2016:

U OF I prepares for layoffs: Capitol Fax, April 20, 2016:

HOW TO destroy a State: An und fur sich, March 25, 2016:

Vol. 9, No. 2 June 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: Gail Mansfield, Susan S. Stevens, Mary Voelker, Monica M. Walk
Chair: Colleen Piersen
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Kimberly Mayfield
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar

April 7, 2016

April 2016 APAC News Vol. 9, No. 1

Budget Impasse Raises Health Insurance Questions

The budget impasse has raised questions about health insurance coverage
when UIC personnel need to see medical practitioners.
By Susan S. Stevens

YOU SPRAINED your ankle. Or, your child’s asthma has flared up. You have insurance through your job at UIC, but your doctor wants you to write a check or put the bill on your credit card. What do you do?

FIRST OF ALL, yes, you still have insurance despite the State of Illinois having no budget for this fiscal year. It simply is that the Illinois Central Management Services (CMS), the unit of State government that handles employee insurance, does not have the legal authority to pay claims or premiums to vendors providing fully insured HMO coverage. Those payments stopped in September last year. (See further details toward the end of this article.)

EMPLOYEES WITH fully insured HMO plans should have no problem. These -- such as BlueAdvantage, HMO Illinois, Health Alliance, and Coventry HMO -- have agreed to continue paying claims to healthcare providers on their normal schedule.

BUT FOR the others …

Who can help you?
THE STATE of Illinois pays the direct cost of each claim, rather than paying a monthly premium, to the Quality Care Health Plan (QCH\IP) and two Open Access Plans (OAPs). The State has placed these payments on hold. Katie Ross, Senior Director of Human Resources Administration, University of Illinois, said out-of-network dental and mental health providers have been asking employees to pay up front and await reimbursement.

SEEK TREATMENT as needed, according to CMS. “As a covered plan participant, your medical, prescription, dental and vision coverage is still in effect and has not been reduced in any way. Claims continue to be processed by the plan administrators in accordance with the applicable plan design.”

IF YOU are asked to pay up front for a service, contact the administrator of your insurance plan, CMS said. “Your plan administrator will contact the provider to try to find a resolution. If a resolution cannot be reached and the provider continues to ask for an upfront payment, you should make arrangements with your provider to be reimbursed once the provider receives payment from the plan, including any interest that may apply to your claim.”

FOR IN-NETWORK providers, only your normal co-payment or co-insurance should be requested. However, if your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider insists on immediate payment, and you cannot pay, contact your plan administrator immediately. You should find a phone number on your insurance card.

Phone numbers for:
Cigna: 800-962-0051
HealthLink OAP 800-624-2356
Coventry OAP 800-431-1211
Delta Dental 800-323-1743

IF YOU still do not have the right phone number, call the Central Management Services Group Insurance Division at 217-558-4486 during normal business hours.

ROSS POINTS to a set of frequently asked questions on the CMS website:

EMPLOYEES WHO have a specific question or concerns regarding a medical claim payment can contact the CMS Member Services group by phoning that 217-558-4486 number or emailing

FOR INQUIRIES regarding the State’s hold on dental claims: 844-350-4432. General customer service questions, including claims, should continue to be directed to 800-323-1743.

What to expect in the future?
DESPITE THE budget impasse, insurance premiums are still being deducted from your paychecks. That will continue. Some good news: if you pay your medical bills yourself, you may be offered nine percent interest when the State reimburses you if payments are delayed too long.

A CMS spokeswoman issued the following statement March 22:

“DUE TO decades of fiscal mismanagement, the State Employee Group Insurance Program has been underfunded for years. Healthcare providers and carriers have regularly managed payment delays of eight months or longer. These payment delays will continue until the General Assembly passes a balanced budget. We are hopeful that the General Assembly will act soon to pass a balanced budget and enact real reforms so claim payments to our group health insurance program can resume.

“CMS AND the health plan administrators are working diligently with healthcare providers to try to avoid having providers charge members up front for services and to ensure there is no interruption of service. Any state group health insurance member having any problems receiving services should first contact their health plan administrator directly for assistance.  Members may also contact the CMS Group Insurance Division at 800-442-1300 for further assistance.”

CMS ADDED: “A list of all healthcare vendor websites and contact information is available at”

State employee contract unsettled
ALONG WITH the State budget, a new contract for the State’s largest employee union – AFSCME – is in limbo. Negotiations have been underway for months. While the negotiations cover the full range of employee benefits, such as salary, they also pertain to insurance.

GOVERNOR BRUCE Rauner said in a statement Jan. 15 that only employees who choose the State’s “expensive, platinum health plan will see twofold increases to help cover a fraction of the cost of this plan.” He said AFSCME was “misleading at best” when it said the State would double health insurance premiums. Rauner said no increase in premiums was proposed except for the platinum policyholders.

EVERYTHING IS on the table, University of Illinois President Timothy Killeen said in a March 7 letter to the UIC Academic Professional Advisory Council Executive Committee and others. Rauner is seeking a ruling from the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) confirming that an impasse has been reached. “The Governor continues to urge that AFSCME take the State’s ‘best and final’ offer to its membership for a ratification vote, and the State may be able to implement its last offer if the ILRB agrees that an impasse exists,” Killeen wrote.

KILLEEN ALSO noted that the University will broadly communicate any changes for the University community.