This past February, the Council of UC Faculty Associations (CUCFA) became aware that the UC administration was considering plans to restructure the health benefits for all University of California employees. At a meeting of the UC Senate Faculty Welfare Committee, John Stobo, Vice President for UC Health, outlined a plan to push UC employees currently enrolled in HMO plans such as Health Net, and potentially eventually Kaiser, into a new UC Care HMO built around the UC Medical Centers, supplemented by contracting with a network of private medical providers where UC Medical Centers were not available.
Alarmed by this proposal to eliminate competitive choice in healthcare plans — a proposal that could require employees to sever long established relationships with their doctors — CUCFA wrote a letter opposing the elimination of health benefits choices, especially doing so without extensive study of the impact on faculty and employees, without detailed financial projections that are made publicly available, and without wide consultation with all UC employees.
CUCFA invited others to sign the letter, which over 2,600 UC employees did, the vast majority of them senate faculty. The CUCFA letter was delivered April 7.
On May 6, Provost Aimée Dorr responded to let us know that the process had been slowed down. She stated that “there definitely will be no change in the healthcare plans offered for the calendar year 2016,” that these expanded discussions would include discussion of “ways to include broader representation from faculty and staff” and that “going forward, we also want to be sensitive and avoid the necessity for faculty and staff to change doctors, so another objective is to minimize disruption to provider networks, with the major networks being Kaiser (a self-contained insurance company and network system), Health Net, and UC Care.”
But Provost Dorr made clear that this idea is still being pursued, specifically some form of shift towards plans “focused on self-insurance because this has the potential for providing the most affordable healthcare, it allows us to construct the provider networks as opposed to having those networks being disrupted by negotiations between the insurer and the provider (e.g., Blue Shield and PAMF at UC Santa Cruz), and it allows UC to have more control over the benefits provided.”
The SCFA will continue to vigilantly follow this issue and work to protect the quality, affordability and access of faculty healthcare.