By Casey S. Elliott
Faculty Senate approved two resolutions Monday that call for instituting minor changes in health care benefits and keeping employees premiums constant next fiscal year.
One resolution supports requiring employees to choose generic drugs when they're available and use mail-order prescriptions for maintenance drugs. For couples, premiums would be based on the highest wage earner's salary if both individuals work at the university. These measures, also included in a recent Budget Planning Council recommendation aimed at containing university health care costs, will save an estimated $860,000. The Faculty Senate measure also calls for continuing an in-network status for Holzer Clinic and Holzer Hospital, which senators said the university and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield should negotiate with to achieve a drop in Holzer's rates.
The senate also approved a measure calling for employee premiums for fiscal 2010 to remain at fiscal 2009 levels to adjust for a rise in premiums that occurred July 1, 2007, without the approval of Faculty Senate, as called for in the Faculty Handbook.
The senate rejected a resolution to support the full BPC recommendation to institute a number of plan changes to save the university $3 million in health care costs annually, saying the changes would have a significant impact on their salary and benefits. The BPC recommends increasing premiums in a way that places a greater portion on employees with higher salaries, raising co-pays and co-insurance levels, and adding a deductible.
Some faculty senators questioned whether the severity of layoffs would be greater if the university doesn't pursue the BPC recommendation. Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur said layoffs are inevitable, however, without the $3 million in savings recommended by the BPC, the current fiscal 2010 deficit of $10 million to $11 million would grow.
After the meeting, Decatur and Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said they would discuss Faculty Senate's stance with President Roderick J. McDavis to determine how the university should proceed with health care planning for the coming fiscal year.
In her report to the senate, Krendl noted that budget reduction targets that have been asked of planning units average 9.6 percent for major academic support units and 3.5 percent for academic units. The intent is to ensure that budget reductions are strategic, rather than across the board, and that the university's core academic mission remains the priority.
The senate also heard first reading of three resolutions related to the conversion from quarters to semesters. The guidelines, which will be up for approval at the senate's April meeting, would:
- Set three hours as the standard semester course (one hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or one and a half hours on Tuesday and Thursday)
- Set 120 semester hours as the minimum needed for a bachelor's degree and 60 semester hours as the minimum needed for an associate's degree
- Outline general education requirements under a semester format.
Also discussed was a resolution clarifying Faculty Handbook language on search procedures for executive academic officers.