By Theresa Schliep
As a response to health care negotiations and other tensions with the administration, the Faculty Senate has launched a letter-writing campaign to various members of the administration.
The administration proposed a new health care plan that would shift all faculty, administrators and staff from United Healthcare’s “Enhanced Health Care Plan” to its “Standard Plan” on July 1, 2018. The proposed plan will save the university $4 million annually, according to the Senate leadership, but will increase health care costs on individual faculty members in return.
The “Standard Plan” would require a 10 percent coinsurance in-network, rather than zero percent for the more generous “Enhanced Plan.” It would also see a 30 percent coinsurance out-of-network rather than 20 percent. It would increase out-of-pocket expenses for the faculty members, administrators and non-unionzed staff who use it, both in-network and out-of-network.
The “Standard Plan” would also introduce in-network deductibles and co-insurances that do not exist in the current enhanced plan.
“The proposed plan will be extremely detrimental to the sick and financially vulnerable at the university, both faculty and staff,” said Andrew Clark, chair of the Faculty Salary and Benefits Committee, in an email interview with The Fordham Ram.
Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, said the administration hopes they will arrive to an agreement that benefits all parties involved.
“The negotiating team is engaged in active and productive conversations with the Salary and Benefits Committee of the Faculty Senate, and the University leadership is hopeful we will come to an agreement that is good for the faculty and for the University,” Howe said in a statement to The Fordham Ram.
The Faculty Senate sponsored the creation of Fordham Faculty Rights, a website that includes information on writing letters to administrators, testimonials from anonymous faculty detailing how the proposed changes would affect their health care and other resources. Anne Fernald, president of the Faculty Senate, said the website is an effort to show the Fordham community the costs of this new health care plan proposal.
“The administration has consistently underestimated the cost-shifting onto faculty,” said Fernald in an email interview with The Fordham Ram. “We want everyone in the Fordham community to see the price that faculty and staff are being asked to pay.”
Clark said the campaign is to inform the Fordham community “about the situation and coordinate and prepare actions in the coming weeks.”
In Fall 2016, the Faculty Senate filed grievances with Joseph M. McShane, SJ., president of the university, Chief Financial Officer Martha Hirst, Treasurer Dr. Stephen Freedman, university provost and members of the Fordham University Board of Trustees over what it said were violations of the University Statutes that require agreement between the administration and Senate on salary and benefits.
The Board of Trustees will convene on April 20 and 21, 2017 to decide the 2017-18 budget, which will dictate faculty health care for the coming year.
Clark said that while he will not feel the healthcare changes as much as those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, “the increased co-pays in emergency care and in doctors’ appointments will certainly be felt by me as I have two young daughters, who like most children find themselves in the emergency room a couple times of year and have to see their doctor frequently during cold and flu season.”