Another semester, and another Academic Year is behind us. I hope spring and summer give you a time to pause, reflect and reinvigorate. While most of us will soon be off contract, most of us will continue working on things that advance our students, community and disciplines.
Negotiations started in January. We remain extremely far apart on an agreement. Credible proposals from UMS remain few. We will be meeting this Friday and multiple times in June in an effort to secure an agreement that recognizes and rewards the work that we do.
Stay tuned for updates and think about actions that we will collectively take in September if we are unable to secure a fair contract.
Last December AFUM put together Higher Education policy proposals. Three of these were turned into bills. The latest was a bill (LD 1507) to provide regulations on student loan servicers operating in Maine. USM AFUM chapter President Susan Feiner, three of her students (taking her class on student debt), and I testified before the Finance and Insurance Committee in support of the bill.
Speaking in opposition was a lobbyist from Wells-Fargo. I am pleased to report that the committee gave a unanimous (and bipartisan) “ought to pass.” I am told that this outcome is highly unusual. Initial questioning from some legislators was a bit hostile, as if students were freeloaders trying to get out of paying debts and/or that colleges used “easy and free” loan money to overcharge. The latter is definitely true of too many for-profit colleges. Clearly work needs to be done for legislators and citizens to understand the value of our Universities and how their underfunding increases costs and negatively affects access and quality.
It may surprise many of us that much of the student loan debt is not from the debt itself, but from inappropriate fees, actions and errors that may have doubled the actual amount of debt. Servicers are required by federal law (but seldom enforced) to provide borrowers the opportunity to enter into affordable repayment plans. In too many cases, the servicers force or coerce borrowers into plans that increase the debt. Also unrecognized by many, is that the servicers are the only method to move into income-based repayment plans. A NYT article describes some of the allegations against one provider, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/business/dealbook/navient-loans-lawsuit.html?
Wellness & Insurance
The deadline for level 1 has been extended through the end of this month. Anyone who has not yet achieved Level 1 should have received an email from UMS Wellness with subject “RiseUp Level 1 Deadline Reminder.”
Remember that there are TWO ways to achieve Level 1:
1) Have a wellness visit.
2) Have a Trestle Tree coaching session. (Call 855-580-2797 to schedule an appointment.)
That’s it, no other hoops to jump through or bells to ring.
Both you and a covered spouse/domestic partner must achieve level 1. Children, even adult children, do NOT.
Both of these activities are logged automatically, you need, and should not, do anything else except log onto the Provant Website to check if you have reached Level 1.
Wellness & Insurance: In the weeds
It does take time for files to transfer. It could take a month so don’t panic if the Provant site doesn’t show Level 1 completion. You can call Provant to check on your status at 855-274-7387 . I did this yesterday and was pleased with the service. While you can get into Level 1 at any time none of us want to pay more, even for a month. If you did have a wellness visit in late April or May you should “… have your annual wellness visit scheduled by May 31, you may wish to go to the Provant Portal and print the preventive wellness form, have your physician complete it, and fax it back to Provant.” Also “If you believe you and your spouse/partner (if covered under your health plan) have met Level 1 and it is not reflected with Provant, please go to RiseUp Appeals for an appeals form.”
Where do you find the Provant Portal and other questions:
http://wellness.maine.edu/ is the link to UMS Wellness. It has the Wellness Newsletter and information on benefits that many of us will find useful, but are underutilized. These include MDLIVE (modern telemedicine), EAP, and Best Doctors (which includes are parents, even when they are not on our plan). There is also information on helping you choose when it is best to use MDLIVE, ER, urgent and walk-in care or your doctor’s office.
Unfortunately the site does not easily direct you to the Provant Website, so I will: (https://riseup.provantone.com/_layouts/15/Provant.CustomerPortal.Authentication/Participant%20Pages/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f_layouts%2f15%2fAuthenticate.aspx%3fSource%3d%252F&Source=%2F)
If you need assistance contact the EAB at (866) 269-9635, (207) 973-3373, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The newsletter includes a profile of our colleagues working at EAB.
Most of us wouldn’t turn down an extra (taxable) $100 or $200. While the money is still there (for both you or covered spouse/domestic partner; each can earn the $100), the focus has shifted from just jumping through hoops to activities that you enjoy and improve your health. The Wellness portal has a place to make suggestions on what new Campus Events should be held. Remember that we are a diverse population, some events skew young and some should skew to the more experienced among us. Make your suggestions.
We will be getting a health insurance rebate as the total cost was less than predicted. I don’t yet have any figures on the amount. Unfortunately, the rebate is not due to less spend (the cost of medical & RX), it is due to RX rebates. All these rebates are credited towards plan savings. These rebates lower the cost of the plan for us all.
Since the AFUM marginal rate is 50% (UMS pays the other half), the rebate has direct and serious impact on our insurance rates. We get rebates from using the on-line pharmacy. If you haven’t already done so please consider using the CIGNA pharmacy. My experiences with them have been very positive.
Some of us prefer to “shop local”. I am trying to get definitive information on what chains have the highest cost to the plan and will share that information when I can confirm it.
Have a great summer.