Task force to scrutinize University health-care options

Liz Bogut

Faculty members are one step closer to a solution for problematic health-care coverage after a University Senate Consultative Committee meeting Thursday.
University officials hired a consulting firm to assist the health-insurance task force in its study of the University’s health-care options. The University currently contracts with the state to provide health care for its employees.
The task force is a subcommittee of the SCC, a student-faculty committee.
Task-force members have already identified problems with the current health-care plan, including its lack of domestic-partner benefits, poor out-of-state coverage and expensive premiums. The consulting firm, Buck Consulting, will survey faculty members to get additional input.
Research conducted by the firm will help the task force make recommendations to the University Senate, a student-faculty governing body, about the University’s continued relationship with the state health-care plan.
One option the task force is considering is creating a health-insurance program that would focus specifically on University employees and cater to their unique needs.
“The consulting company will be conducting focus groups to see what issues concern people the most,” said Richard McGehee, chairman of the University’s health-insurance task force.
Chris Hulla of Buck Consultants said the firm will gather input from every segment of all four University campus populations.
After the research is compiled, the task force will make its recommendation in September 2000.
If the recommendation calls for a new health-care plan, it will be presented to the Board of Regents in December 2000, after University Senate deliberation.
“If we decide to go with a new plan, the earliest we can put a new plan into effect is January 2002,” said McGehee.
The health insurance task force was created in 1997 to look into health care-problems identified by faculty and staff.
Fred Morrison, SCC co-chairman, said the task force is also considering expanding the University’s health-care plan to include students.
“Under a health-care plan separate from the state, faculty, staff and civil-service employees would be covered,” said Morrison. “That still leaves graduate teaching assistants and undergraduates to be considered.”
Morrison said the consulting firm will need to get feedback from students to consider that option.
The consulting firm has already begun research and will conduct focus groups later this month.

Liz Bogut covers University faculty and welcomes comments at [email protected]