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Governance Minutes Archive

April 16, 1992


                                 STAFF SENATE


                        MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING

                           THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 1992

                   ROOM 102 - PHASE IV - VETERINARY MEDICINE



  SENATORS PRESENT:  Carolyn Alls, Pat Ballard, Clara Cox, Patrick Donohoe,

  Julie Hancock, Linda Haney, Barbara Hise, Doug Irvin, Sherilyn McConnell,

  Margie Murray, Pamela Orcutt, Charles Paige, Diane Patty, Fred Phillips,

  Rocky Price, Haywood Pyle, Peggy Rasnick, Kathy Reynolds, Widget Shannon,

  Buddy Shaver, Sonja Stone, Charlie Stott, Keith Tignor, Sarah Wheeler, Deb

  Williams, Pat Worrell


  ALTERNATES IN ATTENDANCE:  Janet Bryant for Janis Brown, Bruce Harper for

  Spencer Foster, Diane Kaufman for Doug Jones, Wyatt Sasser, Sherri Turner,




  GUESTS:  Charlie Gills, Karen Board, Greg Ritter







  The meeting was called to order at 5:35 p.m. by President McConnell, who

  welcomed guests, liaisons, senators, and alternates.





  President McConnell announced that Staff Senate Constitution and Bylaws

  would go before University Council this week.  Senators Orcutt and Tignor

  will attend, and Senator Orcutt will present the documents to the Council

  for first reading.  President McConnell asked Senators to supply input for

  President McComas' address to the staff in late May or early June.  Con-

  gratulations were extended to Senator Stott for receiving the President's

  Award for Excellence.





  The minutes of the March 19, 1992, Staff Senate meeting were approved with

  the addition of Rocky Price to the list of Senators present.





  *POLICIES AND ISSUES--Senator Stott, chair, reported that the committee has

  met three times since the 26th of March.  Senator Stott said that Bill

  Aliff, chair of CSAC's Policies and Issues Subcommittee, suggested the com-

  mittee consider addressing the following issues:  pay for performance, per-

  formance evaluations, educational leave, parking, the new health care plan,

  and several health and safety issues.  The next two meetings will deal with

  planning approaches to policies and issues.


  *POLICIES AND ISSUES/STAFF ASSOCIATIONS--Senator Murray, chair, reported

  the committee has not met.  Senators have been asked to review a list of

  all staff association officers.


  *COMMUNICATIONS--Senator Cox, chair, reported that the issue of campus com-

  munications had been referred to the committee from Policies and Issues,

  particularly how to get information from mailings to deans, directors, and

  department heads distributed to staff.  The committee has contacted Ann

  Spencer about the problem and will continue to pursue it.  The committee

  also has drafted a letter to make new employees aware of Staff Senate and

  other opportunities for staff involvement in university governance.  Fol-

  lowing changes to the letter by the Senate, motion was made and carried

  that the letter be forwarded to Personnel Services for inclusion in the

  new-employee packet.  Vice-President Orcutt recommended that the letter

  also be placed in the supervisor's packet for all new wage employees.  Sen-

  ator Cox also reported on highlights of the April 2, 1992, CSAC meeting:

  The CSAC final report was favorably reviewed by Minnis Ridenour and Ann

  Spencer.  It will be available on the computer mainframe, will be placed in

  Special Collections at Newman Library, and will be presented to University

  Council on April 20, 1992.  The report was published in SPECTRUM today and

  Senators were encouraged to read it.  Representatives of CSAC were sched-

  uled to meet on April 10 with Richard Alvarez, Ann Spencer, and Minnis

  Ridenour to discuss health and safety issues.  CSAC will hold its final

  meeting on May 7, 1992.


  *CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS--Senator Tignor, chair, reported that the commit-

  tee's work is completed and that members will be absorbed into the Policies

  and Issues Committee.


  *ELECTIONS AND NOMINATIONS--Senator Phillips, chair, reported that Senator

  Jones from the library has resigned, effective immediately, due to family

  conflicts and is being replaced by Diane Kaufman.  Senator Phillips said

  that nine Senators have potential problems with their respective terms on

  councils and commissions.  due to the length of their Senate terms.  The

  Elections and Nominations Committee will be working with the area associ-

  ations to alleviate this problem.  A database of additional nominees from

  area associations may be compiled to ease problems with future nominations.

  The possibility of adding an alternate senator for the Northern Virginia

  Graduate School was discussed.  The suggestion was made that the school

  form its own association and elect a senator and alternate even if they

  could only participate electronically.  The addition of an alternate was

  discussed as probably the easiest solution since it would not require any

  formal structuring.





  There was no old business.



  NEW BUSINESS--Senator Williams made a plea for Senators to disseminate all

  information from the Senate meetings through their staff associations.  She

  stressed the importance of the impression Staff Senate makes on the staff

  and asked all senators to send information to area representatives as well

  as to staff association officers.  She said that what the Senate accom-

  plishes during the next three years will determine its standing as a viable

  governing body.


  Senator Williams said she has new information about the AIDS/HIV virus.

  She can be reached via computer at DEBW on VTVM1 for a copy.


  President McConnell shared a letter from Delegate Joan Munford concerning

  her dismay over the Key Advantage health care plan and noting that she

  would never have voted for such a plan if it had been presented to the

  House of Delegates.


  PRESENTATION President McConnell introduced Ann Spencer and Doug Martin

  from Personnel Services to present information on the new Key Advantage

  health care package.


  Ann Spencer opened the presentation by stating that she, Doug Martin, and

  all Personnel officers share staff's dismay and anger over the new "Advan-

  tage" plan.  She provided some of the background for development of the

  plan.  In 1991 the Appropriations Act directed a redesign of the health

  care plan, which referred to a proferred provider plan as a way to contain

  health costs across the state.  The new plan will actually cost Virginia

  Tech more, and the cost will be recovered through tuition charges to stu-

  dents.  The Key Advantage plan was developed by state administrators and

  added to the Governor's budget plan by the Compensation and Retirement Sub-

  committee.  State legislators approved it as a line item under the budget

  bill as a $64 million savings this biennium.  The university administration

  had no input into the plan.  Doug Martin and benefits staff attended a De-

  partment of Personnel and Training (DPT) information session in mid-March.

  The Virginia Tech Personnel Department immediately went into action.  Their

  first concern was the inadequate number of physicians participating lo-

  cally.  Other concerns include the need for women to have more than one

  doctor and the mental health coverage.


  DPT's response was poor, and the presidents from universities and colleges

  across the state established a task force, which is chaired by Minnis

  Ridenour, to try to resolve difficulties with the plan.  Ann Spencer sup-

  plied Senators with a comprehensive list of issues that the task force is

  addressing.  The task force met with the Deputy Secretary of Adminis-

  tration, DPT, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield personnel.  They left feeling con-

  fident there would soon be a greater number of physicians in the New River

  Valley and that state officials would respond to the list of issues.  An

  opportunity to get the General Assembly to take action on the plan could

  come when the legislators meet in a second veto session on May 27, 1992.

  The Governor implemented a 90-day transition period in which state employ-

  ees should have time to make necessary adjustments.  No penalties will be

  assessed for seeing any physician during the transition period.  The

  sourcebooks describing the plan are ready for distribution, but the Bene-

  fits Department has held them with the hope of changes in the plan.


  There are many concerns across the country about the growing cost of health

  care.  The Commonwealth of Virginia is self-insured.  Blue Cross/Blue

  Shield is only the underwriter.  Other companies cannot competitively bid

  when they may lose the contract in three years.


  QUESTION-- Senator Williams asked why we could not solicit another state's

  provider to remove the BC/BS monopoly.  ANSWER-- Doug Martin stated that

  technically, the state is self-insured and BC/BS serves only as an adminis-

  trator.  The administration portion of the plan is bid periodically.  The

  contractual components of the health care plan are determined by state per-

  sonnel and external consultants.  One problem with getting other adminis-

  trators is that very few companies have a staff large enough to administer

  a statewide plan that serves approximately 100,000 employees.


  QUESTION-- Is it true that doctors will receive a kickback if referrals are

  kept to a minimum?  ANSWER-- Doug Martin stated this was true.  Ten percent

  of charges are kept in a pool and at the end of the year doctors receive a

  share in the profits.


  QUESTION-- President McConnell asked who chooses the committees that ad-

  dress health care insurance and how do we get representation on them.  AN-

  SWER-- Doug Martin was unable to answer at this time; however, his office

  will be pushing hard to see that representatives from this area are added

  to the committee.


  QUESTION-- Senator Ballard asked if other state agencies and higher educa-

  tion personnel offices are organizing to create a more united front.  AN-

  SWER-- Most are doing things on an individual basis.


  QUESTION-- Alternate Senator Sasser asked what is the "bottom line" or real

  purpose of the new plan.  ANSWER-- The state will save $64 million this

  biennium.  Virginia Tech contributes $800,000 more next year, which will be

  covered through a tuition increase.


  QUESTION-- Senator Stott asked if $64 million in savings is just a

  "guesstimate."  ANSWER-- True, simply a projection.


  QUESTION-- The question was asked if DPT was the "heavy" in designing the

  plan.  ANSWER-- Yes, along with a consulting firm.


  QUESTION-- Charlie Gills asked if there was always the need to have the

  primary care physicians concurrence.  ANSWER-- Yes.  Doug Martin also

  stated that it has been estimated that each physician can service 500 em-

  ployees within a 30-mile radius.  Estimates for Montgomery County are that

  only 22 physicians will be needed for 11,000 state employees.  Each physi-

  cian must also have a designated back-up when s/he is out of the office.


  QUESTION-- Senator Stott asked if the legal and malpractice issues have

  been addressed.  ANSWER-- Yes, it is important that the physicians are re-

  presented also.


  QUESTION-- Senator Donohoe asked if doctors will will be picked.  ANSWER--

  Unsure, they are posing that question now.  The doctors have a strong

  agreement to refer patients within the Advantage network.  If they do not,

  patients will be required to pay 25 percent of the difference for both vis-

  its.  All hospitals will be participating.  The only thing to watch with

  hospitalization would be to make sure the admitting doctor is participating

  or else the employee will find him/herself responsible for 25 percent of

  the hospital bill as well.


  QUESTION-- President McConnell asked what happens with a mental condition

  if the subscriber is unable to call the 800 number.  ANSWER-- There is no

  good answer at this time.


  QUESTION-- Charlie Gills asked for the rationale behind the plan.  ANSWER--

  Doug Martin stressed they had asked to be provided with a savings break-



  QUESTION-- A Senator stated that eventually the doctors will participate

  and other patients will probably bear the brunt of the costs.  ANSWER-- The

  people without insurance are carrying the load.  State retirees will fall

  under the same rules as current employees.


  QUESTION-- Senator Kaufman said she had been through this before and that

  the main thing is to always work through one's primary care physician.  AN-

  SWER-- Yes, that is your safest bet.  On another note, when traveling out

  of town you will be covered.


  QUESTION-- Alternate Sasser asked if we could opt out of the plan now and

  come back in later.  ANSWER-- Yes, employees can come back in at any time;

  however, family members would have to wait until open enrollment.


  QUESTION-- Senator Rasnick asked if the Basic people would now pay $7

  monthly.  ANSWER-- Yes, with pre-tax dollars.


  QUESTION-- A Senator asked if records of the number of referrals would be

  public information.  ANSWER-- Blue Cross/Blue Shield can check patients'

  records now at any time.  There is no mechanism for us to check doctors'



  QUESTION-- Senator Stott asked why they even thought they could expect more

  doctors to sign up with such poor incentives.  ANSWER-- No real answers,

  with the exception that it would be profitable for new doctors or doctors

  with small clientele to sign on.


  QUESTION-- Senator Wheeler asked if her primary care physician might be

  able to make a referral over the phone.  ANSWER-- Doug Martin said there is

  no answer to that at this time.


  QUESTION-- Senator Tignor asked why each answer created more questions.

  ANSWER-- Personnel and Benefits have asked DPT for more informative

  question-and-answer sessions and have been instructed they are being

  planned.  The sourcebook and memo will be out in a few days, but there is

  still a concern that more details will change prior to October 1, 1992.



  CLOSING COMMENTS-- Doug Martin stated the Prescription Card Plan is un-

  changed.  During the 90-day transition, no penalties will be imposed.

  Sourcebooks will be distributed soon and should be read carefully.  The re-

  ferral process is the most complicated part.  Employees do have the option

  to change their primary care physician on a monthly basis.  Several infor-

  mation sessions will be held on campus to discuss the new plan.


  Ann Spencer asked Senators to convey the administration's position in this

  matter.  She said they have tried to represent the university's best inter-

  ests and are extremely frustrated.  They have been unable to get accurate

  information to distribute as it seems to be changing so rapidly.  Senator

  Williams reiterated that Ann Spencer and Doug Martin have worked diligently

  to pass information along.  She also urged Spencer and Martin to use the

  cost of the added workload among their staff as a reason to fight this




  OTHER BUSINESS-- Senator Stott presented a resolution to request reevalu-

  ation of the Key Advantage health care plan, of the process used to estab-

  lish any future health care programs, of the selection of administrators

  for the programs, and of the determination of geographic representation on

  committees, board, councils, and other groups dealing with health care.

  The motion was made to forward it to DPT along with a cover letter inviting

  DPT to come to Virginia Tech and further address the issue.  The motion

  passed unanimously.



  The meeting adjourned at 7:45p.m.

  Barbara Hise




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