UNIVERSITY BENEFITS COMMITTEE MINUTES
September 9, 2004

Present: William Baker, Radha Balamuralikrishna, Terry Borg, Dennis Davito, Michael Duffy, Ray Foster, Deborah Haliczer, Judith Malen, Pam Rosenberg, Jerry Zar

Guest: Paul Stoddard

Meeting was called to order by Deborah Haliczer, former committee chair, at 10:05. Introductions were made. Minutes and Agenda were approved by all present.

Elections were held for 2004/2005 officers. Deborah Haliczer was elected chair. Pam Rosenberg and Ray Foster will share responsibilities as secretary.

Old Business:
-The committee held initial discussions of the proposal to provide health insurance benefits for domestic partners that was made last year by the Ad-hoc committee on domestic partner benefits and the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Last year, the committee deferred their vote until a final draft of the proposal was presented to the University Benefits Committee. The committee decided to review the proposal when it is again presented and the next committee meeting, and take a vote at that time. Previous discussion had indicated that members were favorable to this proposal but wanted to see final revisions made to the draft.

-The committee discussed ongoing concerns about insurance reimbursement by CIGNA, given concerns forwarded to committee members about employees’ experiences. Several employees had shared concerns about reimbursement, delays in reimbursement, unresponsiveness of insurance carriers, and substitutions of prescription medication without patient or physician authorization. Dennis Davito relayed some of the concerns brought to the insurance office and agreed to monitor them. It was brought to the attention of the committee that this is a concern seen at all university benefits offices.

-Davito and Haliczer reported that NIU is proceeding with plans to offer additional 457 deferred compensation plans.

-Haliczer and Davito reported on the types of retirement programs and services offered to employees through NIU and SURS.

-The committee briefly discussed last year’s request to look into hearing aid reimbursement. The research will be conducted this fall, with an employee survey created to be mailed to the campus to determine the level of need. Haliczer and Zar agreed to work on this project.

-The committee discussed last year’s request to look into dependent tuition waivers for the children of domestic partners. Last year, the committee had decided that this was not feasible. However, it has been learned that ISU offers dependent tuition waivers for the children of domestic partners, who are considered “stepchildren” for this purpose. The committee decided to look into this issue.

Update from Insurance and Employee Benefits Office:
-The State’s “paperless initiatives” were discussed, and the committee learned that the initial plans had been abandoned for this year, though in future, the State intends to provide benefits and benefits choice information on line. The committee expressed concerns that this will be a problem for some employees who do not have ready access to computers and Internet, and will be a problem for many annuitants.

-Dennis Davito discussed the summer’s two benefits choice periods, and the widespread concerns of many employees who had been confused and worried about the fragmented information, short notice and fears of higher costs.

-Davito discussed possible changes in SURS procedures, and the governor’s intentions to try to merge the several retirement systems and make changes to retiree benefits.

New Business:
-Haliczer presented a proposal made by the Office of Campus Recreation, the FIT Program, and the Employee Assistance and Wellness Program to allow employees to take 30 minutes of work time to participate in approved campus fitness programs. Committee members received a copy of the proposal and will discuss this proposal at the next meeting.

- The committee was informed that Human Resource Services has formed a committee to review existing deferred compensation programs, and to prepare a request for bids for 457 and 403(b) plans. The committee will include a number of staff in HRS, including Davito and Haliczer, and the University Benefits Committee will be represented by Dr. Richard Dowen, Chair of the Department of Finance.

-The committee was given copies of the draft of the 2003-2004 annual report for approval prior to forwarding it to the University Council.

Priorities for 2004-2005:
-Monitor situation with SURS and retirement programs

-Monitor and advocate for adequate health insurance programs

-Complete process of approval of domestic partner insurance proposal and other benefits

-Pursue plans to review existing and offer additional deferred compensation plans

-Advocate for timely and complete benefits information delivery to campus constituents and annuitants

-Advocate for affordable insurance benefits for employees

-Consider feasibility of hearing aid reimbursement

Next meeting was set for November 18, 2004

Meeting adjourned at noon.

Respectfully submitted,
Deborah Haliczer