Davis Faculty Association

Archive for November, 1998

WHA – Western Health Advantage

If you have looked at your Open Renewal packets for this month, you will see that one of the HMOs available to UCD employees is WHA, Western Health Advantage, a consortium composed of Woodland Clinic and Hospital, Mercy Healthcare, NorthBay  Health System, and UCD Medical Center. Formed in 1995, WHA was supported by the Regents because it was felt that the HMOs involved would direct referrals for serious treatment to UCDMC. The Regents support was strong enough that they contributed $1.5 to  WHA’s formation. At the Sept. 19, 1998 meeting of the Regents, it was reported that WHA’s enrollments had fallen below estimation (26,300 as opposed to an expected 38,600), and costs had exceeded estimation. Since the Regents had agreed to share operating expenses, the bill to them was $4,183,006,  $2,683,006 beyond the original contribution, and $721,000 more than anticipated. WHA’s losses this current year are expected to be $3.4 million, and the Regents are responsible for one-third of that amount, plus ongoing operating expenses. It is claimed that most of the unanticipated expenses came from pharmacy and out-of-area claims.

From 1996-1998, inpatient referrals to UCDMC increased 25%, for a $12 million increase of net income, at least in part through affiliation with WHA. Through this larger umbrella organization, there are economies of scale, including licensing fees. There are also increased, and geographically expanded, opportunities for residency training

In the next two years, WHA plans to expand to four more counties (El Dorado, Calaveras, Placer, and San Joaquin). WHA will also  develop a Medicare Risk product that will increase it’s marketability to UCD retirees, and to seek contracts with other large public and private sector employers. WHA’s UC affiliation is a distinguishing feature that is expected to be significant in UC employee enrollment decisions.

CUCFA at Oakland On Healthcare

Topics of CUCFA’s conversations with the UCOP  have been on the fate of UC Care, Pru-High (especially as an affordable Medigap policy) , the development of risk adjustment policies in pricing, the need for greater freedom in out-of-area coverage and in pharmacy policies, and the continued desirability of a 3-tiered point-of-service alternative to HMOs.

Over most of the last decade, as medical costs through HMO containment has declined, the administration’s contribution to employee health care has also declined. Yet employee contributions have increased over this period  for lower quality, restricted-choice health care. Thus it is gratifying that UC’s contribution in 1999 has increased $7 for singles (to $146 monthly), $14 for couples (to $299), and $19 for families (to $405).

The administration is moving towards a risk adjustment policy (as CUCFA has advocated), but it will not be fully implemented this year. UC will try to get health plans to reduce premiums proportional to the number of low risk employees enrolled and raise them for high-risk enrollees. Those numbers are will be available after Open Enrollment.

UC Care, with its 3-tier options, is at risk because its price is higher than standard HMOs. Employees sensitive to increases in yearly premiums, largely younger, lower users of healthcare, may opt out of UC Care into cheaper HMOs, leaving older employees who demand more healthcare, driving up premiums. Currently enrollees of UC Care tier 2 use it as a conventional fee-for-service plan with a $500 deductible (1 person) and an 80% reimbursement plan.  This practice, ignoring the tier-one doctors, drives up the cost of the plan. Currently the fees are $17.23 (1 person), $35.33 for couples, $48.25 for families.

But the danger of driving up rates can be seen in Pru-High, used primarily by older retirees as a Medicare supplement. Its rates are $757.97 for one, $1406.70 for couples, and $1791.45 a month for families. Yet it and UC Care  the only  plans offered  that provide non-emergency out-of-district health care, for faculty  on sabbatical or for employees’ children going to out-of-state schools.

1999-2000 Year Budget Highlights

Now that the 1998-99 budget is in place and we are all enjoying the funding increases, including  a 4.5 % salary increase for faculty, CUCFA is beginning to monitor the evolving 1999-2000 budget. UCOP presented a proposal at the October Regents’ meeting; action is expected on expenditures at the November meeting; action on income sources will be postponed until after the Governor’s proposal is available, probably at the  January or February 1999 Regents’ meeting. We shall continue to report more on this budget as it moves to the Regents, the Governor, and through the Legislature in the spring. In what follows, we present some elements of the UCOP’s  1999-2000 budget proposal that we feel will be of particular interest to faculty.

Faculty Salaries:  UC is requesting funding for a  COLA averaging 2% for all UC employees and an  additional  0.2% parity adjustment for  Academic Senate faculty. Preliminary UC estimates  suggest that for 1999-2000, these increases along  with those coming from regular  merits and promotions  will keep  UC faculty  salaries at the mean of the salaries of our eight  comparison institutions. Updated projections will be available in November and the FA will examine them carefully.

Additional Market Adjustments: UC is seeking funding equivalent to a 5% increase for Coop. Extension Specialists. These academic appointees are recruited from the same population  as  ladder rank faculty, but they did not receive the  parity adjustments afforded the latter via the compact between UC and the Governor.  Thus, their salaries have fallen well behind those in the competitive  marketplace.  The DFA has several times urged the UCOP to provide parity adjustments for individuals in this title series, and will strongly  support the proposal as it goes through the Legislature. UC is also  requesting funding equivalent to a 5% market adjustment for Information Technology (IT) Professionals as the first step in a multi-year plan to provide them with competitive salaries.
Increases in Benefit Costs: UC is requesting funding for increases in the cost of health and dental insurance for its employees. This request is based one estimated cost increases of about 5.5%.

Funding for Enrollment  Growth: UC is seeking $31.6 million in State funds, or $7,900 per student, to support an  additional 4,000 FTE students, bringing the total budgeted general campus enrollment to 151,000 in 1999-2000. The added funding will provide salary and benefits for additional faculty positions and augmented  instructional support including clerical and technical personnel, supplies and equipment funds; teaching assistant positions; and support for libraries and student services.
The proposed enrollment growth of 4,000 FTE students includes 200 FTE students who would enroll in classes during the summer  and thereby earn teaching credentials sooner than would otherwise be the case. This new program represents one of UC’s efforts to attract well qualified students into the teaching profession. As was true in 1998-99, the enrollment growth includes a  target of 800 FTE students in engineering and computer and information sciences. The current plan calls for similar additions over a period of eight years, bringing the total enrollment in these fields to about 24,000 students  in 2005-06.

Student/Faculty Ratio Information: UC enrollments are expected to be at an all-time high in  1999-2000.  With a funded student-faculty ratio of 18.7 to one, UC will employ about the same number of faculty in 1999-2000 as it did in 1990-1991 (when the  ratio was 17.6 to 1) but enroll about 9,000 more students. (In the Regents’  meeting discussion,  one of the board members asked how much money  would be needed to return  to a 17.5 to 1 ratio; Vice President Hershman estimated the cost at $75 M.)

Library Initiative: With the goal of reducing an annual library budgetary shortfall that exceeds $39 million, UC is requesting $7.5 million as the first phase of a multi-year plan to address the needs of the campus libraries’  print collections, continue the development of the digital library, and increase the sharing of library materials across campuses.  UC notes that “for the foreseeable future, electronic information resources will complement, rather than  supplant, traditional collections, requiring the University to support existing collections and services in parallel with the development of digital library services.”

Continued Funding for Core Needs: If the State’s fiscal resources permit, UC will request that the $70M provided in 1998-99 to adress critical needs in deferred maintenance, insturctional technology, instructional equipment, and  library collections be continued in 1999-2000.

Legislative Recap for 1998

by Charles Nash

UC faculty had a great deal to be pleased about when the 1998 Legislative session ended. For example: faculty salary increases averaging 4.5% will bring UC salaries to “parity” with our Comparison-8 institutions for the first time since 1991-92; a $23M appropriation will bring our budgeted enrollment into balance with our headcount enrollment for 1998-99, and a $6M appropriation will provide support for an additional 800 students systemwide in engineering and computer science.

The flush state of the California treasury led to significant “May revisions” of the “January” Governor’s budget that will have very great long-term effects within the University. In March and April the Faculty Associations, mainly through our lobbyist, Jim Bruner, were marshaling support in both houses of the Legislature for a so-called “members request” for funds to arrest the deterioration of the library print collections systemwide. We had very warm receptions everywhere, but no legislation had yet been introduced. We were also actively supporting another “member’s request” coming out of Silicon Valley that was seeking  funds to replace obsolete equipment in teaching laboratories.

We were obviously delighted to discover in May that the Governor agreed with us that these were meritorious initiatives. The final budget provided $10M for the library print  collections and $20M for equipment replacement. We were even more pleased about having persuaded the legislature to include control language in the budget asking the University to “develop a strategy and a multi-year funding plan, including a request for additional state funding, to address the serious problems facing their libraries…” and to report about the progress being made  thereon by March of 1999.

In addition to our efforts on behalf of the budget, the Associations also took positions on other Legislative matters. We actively opposed a bill by Senator “Pete” Knight (R, Palmdale) that would have denied UC and CSU  the right to use state funds to provide  domestic partners’ benefits. (This bill did not even make it to its first committee hearing.)

We also opposed a constitutional amendment proposed by Senator Teresa Hughes (D, Inglewood) which would have made only the top 12.5% of the graduates of each particular high school eligible for admission to UC. The top 4% from each high school would have been “entitled” to admission. This bill was not heard in the 1997-98 session, but its author has reserved the right to bring it back if UC does not adopt something like the 4% rule on its own.

We supported a Higher Education Funding bill by Cruz Bustamante (D, Fresno) that is identical to the one that passed the Legislature last year but was vetoed by the Governor. To no one’s great surprise it suffered  precisely the same fate this year. In his veto message the Governor voiced his support for higher education but stated his preference for another “compact” like the one just concluded. UC and CSU are in fact currently pursuing such a compact even though it can be totally rejected by the incoming Governor and will have no standing with any future Legislature.

We followed but did not take a position on a bill authored by Senator Steve Peace (D, El Cajon) and signed by the Governor that will reduce resident graduate student (but not professional student) fees by 5% in 1999-2000. It also lifts the freeze on professional school fees that was enacted last year. In its present form the bill says that such a fee reduction will take place only if UC receives equivalent funding from the State. We will  continue to monitor the implementation of this provision.

What Have You Done For me Lately II

by Mary Ann Mason

I am now in my second year as President of the UC Council of Faculty Associations, the umbrella organization which unites all seven campus Faculty Associations and maintains a lobbyist in Sacramento. But my colleagues still don’t get it. One faculty member, whom I persuaded to join the Berkeley Faculty Association last year, marched up to me in the mail room with the latest bulletin from the Office of the President. “Look!” he said, “everything’s fixed, we have a good budget now, the times of trouble are over. You and your Council can retire.” I would have liked to respond that the Council was responsible for, at last, a decent budget from the legislature, but I did, in all fairness, concede some credit to the economy.

What I did tell him very forcefully was that no other group is solely advocating for UC faculty in Sacramento and that the budget is only one front on which we fight. Then I stood in the doorway of the mailroom and did not let him escape until I shared with him the highlights of what the Faculty Associations have done for him lately.

“Did you read about the unexpected windfall for the libraries?” I asked. “The Council of UC Faculty Associations lobbied long and hard, with others, to achieve a major victory; gaining an additional $10 million in funding to help restore the depleted collections of the libraries. This is in addition to the $3 million for the digital library that had already been requested by the Office of the President. Many Faculty Association members participated, along with our new lobbyist, Jim Bruner of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, putting pressure on our local representatives to achieve this victory and to insert budget language that requires UC to submit a multi-year library funding plan to the legislature.”

“Have you noticed the bulge in your paycheck? The budget this year included a COLA of 2% plus a parity salary increase of 2.5%. This parity increase should finally bring us back to parity (which means our salaries fall in the middle) with our comparison 8 institutions. Reaching parity, after the serious slump in the early 90’s, has taken five years. This has been a major priority of the Council. We have carefully watch-dogged the progress of this movement in the legislature and in the Office of the President toward restoring our salaries. We have been vigilant to efforts to further delay the onset of the effective date of the increases each year and have lobbied actively to quash these efforts.”

“Are you perfectly happy with your health coverage?” I asked. ” I suspect, like most faculty you are critically concerned about the quality and shifting nature of our health care plans. The Council has pushed for maintaining a triple option plan, providing better access to primary care physicians and offering all UC faculty the opportunity to use UC medical school faculty and facilities. We also advocate better out of town coverage for our peripatetic faculty and an affordable Medigap plan for UC retirees with Medicare coverage. Our representatives are actively participating in the negotiations for the year 2000 health care contracts.”     “Do you own your lectures, or does the university? Do you want your courses to become freeware on the net? We are carefully monitoring the situation on each campus with regard to possible infringements of faculty intellectual property rights and copyrights. Our staff is fully engaged in researching these issues .The Council published a newsletter devoted to Technology in Higher Education: Opportunities and Threats and will continue to defend faculty rights in this volatile area.”

“Do you want some departments to be able to hire new faculty solely with private money? The Council has challenged the Office of the President’s memo to allow private, rather than state funding to support ladder rank faculty. We insist that there must be Senate review and approval of positions supported with non-19900 funds and adequate oversight and management of funds used for long-term support of faculty positions. We have urged the President to gain more faculty input from Senate committees and other forums before irrevocably changing the nature of the faculty culture.”

As he tried to push his way past me in the doorway I attempted to quickly list the wide range of other activities the Council has pursued lately. I told him that we had severely criticized the text of the proposed APM changes on termination for incompetence for failing to define incompetence adequately; how we had pointed out the alarming rise in part-time faculty, and how we were helping the medical school faculty in their efforts to make their compensation plan fairer.

He finally escaped into the hallway and yelled back at me from down the corridor. “Okay, Okay, just keep those good paychecks coming.”

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