By now you will have received announcements from a variety of sources reporting the two-year contract settlement between Blue Shield and Sutter. We would like to think that our efforts to demand action by UCOP played a role in this agreement but, whether it did or not, thank you for your role in those efforts. We are no longer collecting signatures.
It should not be forgotten, however, that this is only a two-year agreement and that, in the meantime, there remain health care issues which have been badly handled or not addressed at all by the University. We hope that the energy and concern generated this time can be sustained in the future, should it become necessary to mobilize again.
UC staff and faculty petition regarding the failure Blue Shield and Sutter Health to reach a contract agreement
January 15, 2015
Dear President Napolitano
We, faculty and staff throughout the UC System, wish to express our concern about the termination of Blue Shield of California’s contract with Sutter Health of Northern California. After the end of June, access to Sutter’s medical centers, especially those of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, at contractual rates will no longer be available for thousands of UC staff and faculty signed up with UC Care.
According to the fact sheet issued on behalf of Blue Shield, not only will access to Sutter facilities be terminated, during the transition period, “Sutter’s charges will be higher, and members should be aware that this will result in higher out-of- pocket expense for services received from Sutter.” UC Care members will be charged for 20% of the noncontractual rate charged by Sutter for medical services, which will impose an unacceptable economic burden, especially for those faculty and staff in lower income brackets who signed up in full faith, and which will result in an effective reduction in wages and salaries. We should note that, during Open Enrollment for 2015, nothing was said about the Blue Shield-Sutter negotiations or the possibility that these might lead to contract termination.
This is only the latest incident in a long-running saga of problems with UC’s health insurance programs. The pattern in recent years of late-breaking changes to health plans and service reduction suggests that the UC administration places too low a priority on the health and welfare of its employees, and we ask your administration to take immediate steps to address this imbalance.
We recognize that UC contracts with Blue Shield to administer UC Care and other health insurance programs, but this does not obviate UC’s obligations to ensure that staff and faculty have access to reliable health care that will not be disrupted by external parties unable to agree on contract terms.
We urge you in the strongest terms to put such pressure as is available on Blue Shield and Sutter Health to come to a contract agreement in order to avoid the costly impacts of termination on UC employees. Second, we urge that UC, in its contractual negotiations with health insurance providers, ensure UC employees are guaranteed reliable, rational, and dependable health insurance options.
U.C. Santa Cruz Faculty Association, a collective bargaining chapter of the Council of UC Faculty Associations
UC-AFT (University Council–American Federation of Teachers), Local 2199 representing lecturers and librarians at UC Santa Cruz.
TOTAL NUMBER OF SIGNATURES GATHERED: