Important UAW/UMass/AETNA Coinsurance Settlement Update

Your union, the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322), and the University of Massachusetts have agreed on a grievance settlement for the out-of-pocket (OOP) health insurance expense amounts that graduate employees in are required to pay for plan year 2011-2012. Under this settlement agreement, the University agrees that the out-of-pocket maximum for graduate student employees covered under the student health insurance plan (AETNA Student Health) for Plan Year August 1, 2011 through July 31, 2012 is $3,000.  Out-of-pocket expenses include coinsurance payments but exclude deductibles, copays and precertification penalties.

If you were a graduate student employee that paid over $3,000 in out-of-pocket expenses during the 2011-2012 plan year (08/01/11-07/31/12), you should have received an email from Aetna Student Health with instructions about how to get your refund.  This email would have also included an important release that must be signed to process your reimbursement.  Please don’t hesitate in completing and returning the forms.  Be assured that Aetna Student Health will only release your student ID #, name and the total amount that has exceeded $3,000 of out-of-pocket costs.  No diagnostic or clinical information will be shared with the University or your union.  If you paid more than $3,000 in out-of-pocket costs and you did not receive an email from Aetna Student Health, please contact a staff member at the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322) at (413) 545-0705 or geo@external.umass.edu .  This agreement along with the saving of the laboratory and pharmacy at University Health Services are tremendous wins for the Graduate Employee Organization (GEO/UAW Local 2322).  Congratulations to everyone that participated in all of the collective actions leading up to this victory.

Chancellor’s Update on UHS Steering Committee

To the Campus Community:

I am writing today to provide an update on the university’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). At my request, a special committee is exploring possible modifications to SHIP as it develops competitive bid specifications for coverage in fiscal 2013.

Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson is chairing this broad-based panel, which will review the current coverage and discuss different mixes of policy benefits and corresponding costs, including premiums, co-pays and co-insurance. It will analyze bids submitted by vendors and recommend a vendor in April.

Insurance changes implemented this year were driven by the need to treat students equitably, regardless of their choice of insurance, and to develop a financial plan that puts University Health Services (UHS) on a sound financial footing, enabling the planning of a new health services facility for patients that meets 21st century needs. Eliminating the subsidy for SHIP subscribers that resulted from differing billing practices for different insurance plans is a fair and financially sound practice, and the committee will evaluate options with that policy in place. As the committee proceeds with its work, the administration will be mindful of its bargaining obligations and will consult with the Graduate Employee Organization when appropriate.

Members of the committee are:

  • Susan Pearson, chair, associate chancellor
  • Bernette Daly, executive director of UHS
  • Donna Yezierski, associate director, UHS
  • Phil Marquis, associate treasurer, UMass president’s office
  • Andrew Russell, director of risk management, UMass president’s office
  • Matthew Wamback, senior insurance analyst, UMass president’s office
  • Andrew Mangels, budget director
  • Yevin Roh, Student Government Association president
  • Thomas Herndon, Graduate Student Senate

Providing assistance to the committee will be HBC consultants Steve Beckley and Doreen Hodgkins.

The university and individual members of our community are grappling with surging healthcare costs. This committee is representative of the campus and includes experts in healthcare and finance. We face another year of difficult choices, and we will benefit from broad input as we identify and weigh our options.

The committee will shortly announce a vehicle for input from SHIP subscribers.

Robert C. Holub Chancellor

Chancellor’s Message on Changes to University Health Services

From: “UMass Chancellor’s Office” <official-chancellors@admin.umass.edu>
Date: December 21, 2011 2:34:37 PM EST
To: massmail-l@oit.umass.edu
Subject: Special Committee to Study Proposed Changes at UHS

To the Campus Community,

In recent weeks, you may have heard about proposed changes at
University Health Services (UHS). To respond to concerns raised by some
staff, students, faculty and the community, I am creating a special
committee that will undertake a comprehensive review of the proposed
changes at UHS.

Chaired by Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson, the 15-member
committee’s charge is to identify cost savings that will enable UHS to
develop a financial plan to build a new health services facility for
patients that meets 21st century needs while maintaining a sustainable
operating budget.

We have no choice but to move ahead and construct a new facility so we
can deliver the best health care possible to students. Currently,
health services are located in three separate buildings, all outdated,
inefficient and in disrepair. The changes announced by UHS, following
extensive study and data gathering, cut expenses to improve the
financial picture and enable the development of a new facility. The
committee will work to reach the same bottom line, but if savings can
be achieved in different ways while sustaining the integrity of the
operations, then they should be explored. This committee will expand
the discussion to ensure that our process is open and inclusive as we
implement changes.

The proposed changes announced by UHS, which will be reviewed by the
committee, include a reduction in holiday, night and weekend hours;
elimination of the pharmacy, and reduction of in-house laboratory work
with more tests performed by an external lab. The changes would cut
21.5 full-time equivalent positions, or about 10 percent of the UHS
workforce.

In addition to Susan Pearson, the special committee will include:

• Bernette Daly, executive director of Health Services
• Donna Yezierski, associate director, UHS
• Three physicians from UHS
• Two UHS staff members
• Three undergraduates named by the Student Government Association
• One graduate student named by the Graduate Student Senate
• One representative from Administration and Finance
• One representative from Human Resources
• Nancy Buffone, executive director of External Relations and
University Events

The appointments to the committee will be completed soon, and the first
meeting is expected to be held in January. I look forward to receiving
the committee’s recommendations during the spring semester.

Robert C. Holub
Chancellor

Grad Program Directors’ letter in response to Coinsurance

Prof. John R. Mullin, Dean of the Graduate School
Prof. Jean Kim, Vice-Chancellor Student Affairs and Campus Life
Prof. James V. Staros, Provost

November 28th, 2011

Dear Colleagues,
We, the Graduate Program Directors of 29 departments and programs, are writing to express our deep concerns about the recent and upcoming changes to student health services, particularly the changes to the Student Health Insurance Policy.

Many of our graduate students and their families rely on the care provided by University Health Services, and will be negatively impacted by the cuts in services announced November 1st. Because of the importance of these services to the well-being of our students, we had hoped, and continue to hope, that they might be spared some of the impact of the budget cuts our University is facing.

The new health insurance policy is an especially large burden for our students. Because of its 15%/$5000 co-insurance clause, a pregnancy, illness or accident can have disastrous financial consequences. Graduate student stipends do not allow them to budget for these sorts of contingencies. The Provost sees the improvement and expansion of graduate training as one of the University’s main priorities. In light of that goal, this change is counter-productive, since it will negatively effect graduate student recruitment and successful degree completion. We used to be able to tout our student health insurance plan as amongst the best in our nation’s public universities; it is suddenly no longer something that we can be proud of.

Sincerely,
Prof. Tom Braden, Mathematics and Statistics
Prof. Laurie Brown, Geosciences
Prof. Charli Carpenter, Political Science
Prof. Stephen Clingman, English
Prof. Harley Erdman, Theater
Prof. David Ford, Chemical Engineering
Prof. Sanjiv Gupta, Sociology
Prof. Karen Helfer, Communication Disorders
Prof. Flournoy Hollland, English MFA
Prof. William M. Irvine, Astronomy
Prof. Linda M. Isbell, Psychology
Prof. Geunhwa Jung, Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences
Prof. Igor Kaltashov and J.M. Stowe, Chemistry
Prof. Elizabeth L. Krause, Anthropology
Prof. Krishna Kumar, Physics
Prof. Kathleen Lugosch, Architecture and Design
Prof. Jesse Mager, Veterinary and Animal Science
Prof. Sridhar Mahadevan, Computer Science
Prof. Kevin McGarigal, Environmental Conservation
Prof. Barbara Osborne, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Prof. Joe Pater, Linguistics
Prof. Erica Scharrer, Communication
Prof. Manisha Sinha, Afro-American Studies
Prof. Paula Stamps, Public Health
Prof. Banu Subramaniam, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Prof. Elsbeth L Walker, Plant Biology
Prof. Eve Weinbaum, Labor Studies
Prof. Barbara Zecchi, Spanish and Portuguese
Prof. Enhua Zhang, Chinese