November 2006 meeting minutes

Minutes of the Westchester
Administrative Staff Council Meeting

Wednesday, November 1, 2006


Butcher Suite, Kessel Campus Center, PLV

Minutes of the October 4, 2006 Administrative/Staff Council meeting were approved.

Treasurer’s Report:

No report this month – funds are unchanged.

Committee Reports:

q       Benefits Advisory Committee – The report was submitted by Phyllis Bradbury, Committee Chair. This was the first meeting of the academic year. Discussion centered on the high cost to the University of maintaining the health care benefits as they now stand. Michele Russo, Director, University Benefits, presented several options, which were discussed along with other possibilities. All options had previously been presented to and discussed by the Benefits sub-committee. Options include leaving benefits as they are, which will involve an approximate 21.7% increase ($52.50/paycheck from $43.22) in contribution for those hired after 2004 and an approximate 137% increase ($49.67/paycheck from $20.92) in contribution for those hired prior to 2004. These rates are for employee-only coverage. Under this scenario, the employees hired prior to 2004 would be paying approximately $5.00 per month less than those hired after 2004. Other options include imposing a yearly deductible and/or adding a coinsurance fee for hospitalization and/or out-patient surgery, increasing out-of-pocket expenses, and mandatory mail-order for maintenance prescriptions. After a discussion of other potential changes, Yvonne Ramirez, Vice President for Human Resources, and Michele Russo presented the option of freezing health benefits until July 1, 2007, at which time a formal RFP will have been sent to HealthNet, Oxford/United Health Care, and Aetna, the three that responded to the initial RFP sent out several months ago. This will allow time to study the plans and make an informed decision. By deferring the medical enrollment until July 1, 2007, employees will not be able to make any medical plan changes except under the guidelines prescribed for particular qualifying events (for example, the birth of a child, a spouse losing or gaining coverage, etc.). The Benefits Advisory Committee agreed to postpone the medical open enrollment until July 1, 2007. Yvonne Ramirez will present all options, including the option to postpone medical open enrollment, to President Caputo. The Committee is open to other suggestions and would welcome input from the community during this process. Please contact any member of the Committee, Phyllis Bradbury, Andrea Winters, and Anna Fishman, to become involved in this ongoing discussion.

q       Communications Committee – The committee is seeking additional members. Please speak to Heather Novak if interested. The members of the Communications Committee will meet with the Executive Board of the Administrative/Staff Council to further define the committee’s role.

q       Faculty Council Representative – No report as this month’s meeting was closed to visitors.

q       Picnic Committee – A chairperson has not been identified. Please contact Gail Weldon if you are interested.

q       Service Committee – There will be a discussion later in the meeting regarding the Clout Toy Drive.


Guest Speaker: Paula Bacon, Administrative/Staff Council Liaison to the Global Centers Committee


·         The global center concept supports the University’s Strategic Plan.

·         A global center serves local in-country professionals and students through non-credit training seminars and ESL; facilitates distance or on-line instruction in that area of the world; and serves to advance “globalization” at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

·         The 16-member Committee is charged with identifying 8 global center sites. The first three countries identified, using specific criteria developed by the Committee, are China, Italy, and Brazil.

·         It is important to note that no global center has been established – the Committee has just identified possible locations.

·         Funding for many of the global center contacts has been made possible by Dr. Beverly Kahn, through grants, partner universities abroad, and local town or government sponsorships from abroad. The majority of the funding has not come from Pace.


Guest Speaker: Michele Russo-Ramirez, Director, University Benefits


·         The University’s medical expenses are increasing, which is reflective of a nationwide trend.

·         Over the past five years, the University’s expenses for HealthNet POS have doubled, from $5.3 million to $10.9 million.

·         Pace University has had a POS plan since 1993 with Aetna, and in April 1998 HealthNet was chosen to provide these benefits. The good news is that 87% of HealthNet POS claims are in-network

·         The average age in the HealthNet POS plan at Pace University is 47. The average age in HealthNet’s community is 32.

·         The plan with HealthNet was running fine until we experienced   “shock claims” (also called “catastrophic claims”), including cancer, open-heart surgery, and high-risk pregnancies, as well as increased utilization over the past two years.

·         The costs of healthcare is not just a Pace issue but indicative of a nationwide trend.  General Motors health care expenses were over $5 billion dollars last year.  Employers are reviewing their health plans, with a focus on cost containment strategies.

·         A medical plan subcommittee has been formed, which is comprised of faculty and staff, to review our medical programs, including vendor relationships, programs that can be carved out (i.e., prescriptions, vision, etc), contribution strategies, funding arrangements, and quality service networks.

·         A Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent to thirteen vendors. Only three (HealthNet, Oxford, and Aetna) came back with competitive pricing and innovative ideas.  The committee will be meeting with these three vendors over the next month.

·         The University is faced with the choice of either raising plan premiums or making some plan design changes effective January 1, 2007. There are several options available:

q       First Option: No plan design changes (POS and HMOs) and increase premiums. For HealthNet POS, premiums would increase from $20.92 to over $49 for employees hired prior to 2004 with individual coverage.

q       Second Option: Leave premium rates flat for POS and make certain changes to the plan, such as adding a deductible and co-insurance for hospitalization and outpatient surgery. Also increase the annual out-of-pocket maximum and out-of-network deductible. Also add mandatory mail-order for maintenance prescriptions.

q       Third Option: Raise premiums and add minor modifications aimed at those that utilize the plan. For example, implement a $500 copay per hospital admission. Also add mandatory mail-order for maintenance prescriptions. Increase the annual out-of-pocket maximums and out-of-network the deductible.

q       Fourth Option: Accelerate the medical plan review (the original target date was January 1, 2008). New target date for medical open enrollment would be July 1, 2007. The medical plan review will look at all plans, review cost containment strategies, and possibly designate major plan design changes. There will be an opportunity for the Pace community to have input via focus groups. The plan review could result in benefits that are more comprehensive, less comprehensive, or the same as those we have now.

·         Part of the medical plan review will include a disruption analysis. This process involves reviewing lists of doctors to see if they participate in Oxford, Aetna, and HealthNet.

·         All aspects of the medical plan are under review, including possibly carving out the pharmacy plan and offering a separate vision program.

·         The Benefits Advisory Committee supported the postponement of medical open enrollment to take effect on July 1, 2007, rather than on January 1, 2007. The final decision will be in the hands of President Caputo.

·         Open enrollment for dental (rates are increasing approximately 7.5%), life insurance, and Flexible Spending Accounts, will still take place from November 20, 2006 to December 10, 2006. These changes will take effect on January 1, 2007.


UPDATE:  President Caputo supported the Benefits Advisory recommendation to delay medical plan open enrollment until July 1, 2007.  As part of this delay, current contributions to all medical plans including HMOs will be frozen for six months.  The University will be absorbing the additional costs for medical plans during this time period.  This is being done with the understanding that the Benefits Advisory is to complete their plan review by March 31, 2007 for implementation on July 1, 2007.  Communications about this plan and reasons for the delay will be forthcoming.


Open Enrollment is scheduled from November 27, through December 12.  You will be allowed to add or delete dependents only from the medical plan but not change medical plans.  In addition, changes to dental, supplemental life insurance and enrollment in the Medical and Dependent Child Care FSA will continue during this open enrollment period.  A communication about open enrollment will be forthcoming as well.


New Business


·         A motion was made, and seconded, that the Council co-sponsor the annual CLOUT Toy Drive. The motion was approved by a quorum of the assembled members of the Council.


·         A motion was made, and seconded, to add language to the Constitution of the Administrative/Staff Council, such that those who volunteer for ad hoc committees, on behalf of the Council, are required to provide status reports at the scheduled Council meetings. The motion was approved by a quorum of the assembled members of the Council. Phyllis Bradbury volunteered to draft the addendum. The addendum reads, “Anyone who serves on a working committee or provisional sub-committee representing the Westchester Administrative/Staff Council is required to attend monthly Council meetings for the duration of their service and present a verbal and written report on the progress of the committee. If the committee member is not able to attend a monthly meeting, the report should be forwarded, in writing, to the Council (Co) Chairs prior to the next scheduled Council meeting, including the statement “no meeting held” if that is the case. This report will be read at the meeting and included in the Council archives.”

·         A reminder: Flu shots will be available in Pleasantville on Wednesday, November 8, from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, in the VIP Room of the Goldstein Fitness Center at a cost of $15.00. Flu shots will be available in New York on Thursday, November 9, 2006, from 12:00pm to 5:00pm, in the Health Care office at 41 Park Row. Cash or check only.

·         A motion was made that Elaine Scanlon serve as interim Co-Chair during Peggy Caraccio’s absence, about 6 – 8 weeks. However, the Executive Board of the Council feels that it can function appropriately during this time, without identifying an interim Co-Chair.

·         The Council membership was reminded to review the minutes from the Joint Westchester/New York Administrative/Staff Council meeting, which was held on October 25, 2006. The discussion focused on ways to move the University forward in a positive direction. There