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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Despite removal of 70% retiree health care floor from July regents' agenda, issue isn't dead

Letter below reproduced by permission:

July 17, 2017

Dear President Napolitano,

The UC Berkeley Emeriti Association (UCBEA) is very troubled about the proposal to rescind the 70 percent floor for the University’s aggregate annual contribution to the retiree health benefit program.  Our concerns have been well articulated by our colleagues from other campuses.  Essentially, they are centered on two general themes: 
  • Governance: The agenda item was added without prior notification or consultation with the Academic Senates or the Councils of Emeriti and Retiree Associations.
  • Financial: There were no details as to the fiscal necessity of this proposed change, no analysis of the financial burden on retirees, and no mention of the impact this would have on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff.
While we appreciate the removal of the proposal from the July agenda, it apparently will be on the agenda for the September Regent’s Finance and Capital Strategies Committee.  In the interim, UCOP must be more sensitive to the long tradition of shared governance and consult with the various stakeholders such as the Academic Senates and the various emeriti associations.  Further, UCOP must be more transparent about the underlying data and analyses that led to this agenda item in the first place.

The emeriti of our wonderful university make an enormous contribution to scholarship and pedagogy.  I draw your attention to John Vohs’ “Eleventh Campus” (see link: 
http://cucea.ucsd.edu/documents/AVirtualEleventhCampus.pdf) and the contribution of UC Berkeley’s emeriti to our campus (see link:

By placing such an important item on the Regent’s agenda without prior consultation and discussion is, at best, disrespectful to our emeriti.  The following recent communication (with his permission) by Professor Emeritus Richard Mathies captures the frustration we have been hearing from many of our colleagues: “Hmmm--- So I have been writing grants, doing research, and advising students and postdocs for free since July of 2013, just brought in a $3M grant from NASA that will support a lot of people at Berkeley (and hopefully lead to putting an instrument on Enceladus and or Europa) brought in many millions of dollars of royalty payments into the campus over the years, and the Regents want to secretly reduce their support for my retiree health care!  Its insulting to see how they respect and reward 40 years working for this institution. I am changing my will terms.  Not your fault but perhaps you can use this message to influence someone.”

We look forward to your acting on our concerns before this issue is brought to the Regents.

On behalf of UCBEA, sincerely yours,

John Swartzberg

President, UCBEA

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Update: Explainer on Blue Shield/Blue Cross Mix-Up

Yesterday, we noted that retirees were having health care bills sent to former carrier Blue Shield when the current carrier (since Jan. 1) is Blue Cross.* Apparently, the work-around is for retirees to ignore communications coming from Blue Shield.

Here is a further explanation from a reliable source:

Some of our Medicare members continue to receive Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from Blue Shield of CA (denials) for claims incurred in 2017.  The reason for this is due to CMS/Medicare’s “crossover” process, by which the claimants’ secondary plan (such as the UC Medicare PPO and High Option plan) receives claims directly from CMS once Medicare has adjudicated the claim.  CMS is informed of the retiree’s supplemental plan via an electronic feed from the carrier.  Unfortunately, CMS still has Blue Shield’s crossover in place and Blue Shield has not been able to correct the information electronically. 

Therefore, Blue Shield is manually updating UC retirees’ records to correct the crossover and anticipates these updates will be completed by next week. After that, CMS will still have to update their system which usually takes about 2 more weeks, after which the issue will be resolved.

The good news is that Medicare also has Anthem’s crossover in place (along with Blue Shield’s) so the 2017 claims are being processed twice – once under Anthem where the claims adjudicate correctly and also under Blue Shield where the same claims are (correctly) denied.  The result is that two EOBs are sent to the member, causing confusion and concern. To date, there are 947 members affected.

If you receive a call from a member about this, please share with them that claims are being sent to both Blue Shield and Anthem now and that Anthem is processing these claims correctly.  For 2017 claims, members should disregard the Blue Shield denial EOBs. 

Anyway, if you are getting stuff from Blue Shield, now you know how to deal with it:
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/07/change-is-hard.html

Sign of the Times


Click to enlarge
California law now requires that one-person restrooms with locking doors be all-gender. See: https://www.mrllp.com/blog-transgender-bathroom-laws-in-california-what-employers-lara-shortz. However, there is also an official boycott - that explicitly includes UC - regarding use of funds for travel to states which are listed by the state attorney general as having laws fostering "discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." See:
https://oag.ca.gov/ab1887.

The sign above, recently noticed by yours truly, seems to be part of this issue, although it is posted on a restroom that is for more than one person and isn't locked. Oddly, not all single-gender restrooms in the building have this sign. Notably, the large men's restroom on the first floor of the same building where there are classrooms - and thus heavy usage - did not have such a sign (as of yesterday afternoon).

Monday, July 17, 2017

Change is Hard

UC changed insurance carriers from Blue Shield to Blue Cross last January 1. But for retired employees, bills kept being sent to Blue Shield which, of course, rejected them. Currently, the situation is that bills are being sent to both carriers and thus retirees get rejections from Blue Shield but bills are being paid by Blue Cross. See the announcement below from the UCLA Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center (ERRC):

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Update on Blue Shield/Anthem Transition Issues 

The Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center recently received this information from the UC Office of the President:

Some retirees who are enrolled in Anthem/Blue Cross Medicare health care plans continue to receive Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from Blue Shield of CA, denying coverage for claims incurred in 2017.   

This issue has occurred with the recent change from Blue Shield to Anthem/Blue Cross. Blue Shield has not been able to correct the crossover information with Medicare electronically so each retiree record must be changed manually.  
 
The good news is Anthem's crossover is in place with Medicare so claims are being paid correctly by them. However, you may receive two different EOBs for 2017 claims - one from Anthem stating that the claim has been paid and one from Blue Shield stating that the same claim has been denied. 
 
For 2017 claims, please disregard the Blue Shield denial EOBs. Claims are being correctly paid by Anthem/Blue Cross. The issue should be completely resolved within the next three weeks.

We realize that this has caused confusion for retirees. Questions or concerns should be directed to the Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC) at 1(800) 888-8267.

New Dean of Social Sciences

[Yours truly may have missed this announcement. Better late than never.]

Dear Colleagues:
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Darnell M. Hunt as Dean of the Division of Social Sciences, effective July 1, 2017.
A member of the UCLA faculty since 2001, Dr. Hunt is professor of sociology and African American Studies, and has served as director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies since 2001 and as chair of the Department of Sociology since 2015. Prior to his appointment at UCLA, he was chair of the sociology faculty at the University of Southern California.
Professor Hunt’s research interests include race, media and cultural studies, and he currently manages a number of research projects on the experiences of African Americans. He has written and edited several publications, including Screening the Los Angeles 'Riots': Race, Seeing, and Resistance and Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities. In February 2017, Professor Hunt, along with Ana-Christina Ramon, Michael Tran, Amberia Sargent and Vanessa Diaz, released the fourth annual Hollywood Diversity Report, a major project focusing on diversity in the entertainment industry...
Sincerely,
Scott L. Waugh
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The law partners of Hastings & Boalt

Hastings
Racist Pasts of Boalt Hall and Hastings' Namesakes Haunt Law Schools

Karen Sloan, The Recorder, July 14, 2017    

Lawyer Serranus Clinton Hastings made his fortune during the California Gold Rush and served as the first chief justice of the state's Supreme Court before giving $100,000—supposedly in gold coins—to establish the University of California's first law school in 1878.

Hastings apparently also enjoyed hunting Native Americans. You read that right.

The namesake of the University of California Hastings College of the Law, according to historians, financed and promoted "Indian-hunting expeditions," in which wealthy men hunted Native Americans for sport in the mid-19th century. Now, an adjunct professor is calling for the San Francisco law school to take a comprehensive look at Hastings' legacy and reconsider whether his name belongs on the school.

Similarly, an attorney and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law has raised questions about a racist legacy of John Henry Boalt, after whom the school's main building is named. Boalt was a Bay Area attorney best known, according to Charles Reichmann, for his efforts to remove the Chinese from the Golden State and his advocacy for what became the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first federal law to bar immigrants based on their race.

Both Reichmann and John Briscoe, the Hastings adjunct, penned recent op-eds in the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the long-dead benefactors for racism and genocide and calling for a thoughtful examination of their legacies.

It seems those calls have not gone unheard. Berkeley law spokeswoman Susan Gluss said last week that the school has formed a "diverse committee of stakeholders" to review Boalt's history and the "appropriateness" of his name appearing on campus.

"It's important to note that John Boalt himself had no relationship with the law school, and Boalt Hall is not the official name of the UC Berkeley School of Law," according to a statement from the law school. "Nonetheless, the name is used widely colloquially within and outside the school, and the concerns raised are meaningful."

Hastings has already commissioned a researcher to gather more information about the school's namesake and plans to form a committee to parse those findings and determine whether they warrant action.

"I have an open mind as to where we go from here," said Hastings Dean David Faigman...


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Listen to Regents Meeting of July 14, 2017 Including Constitutional Issue

In their final session this past Thursday, the Regents discussed a variety of issues that had come up in the two days before. Summaries are available at:

http://www.dailycal.org/2017/07/13/uc-board-regents-passes-budget-debates-new-hr-program/
and
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-uc-regents-budget-20170713-story.html

You can hear the session at the link below:


One issue that came up was an outgrowth of the state audit report that complained about budgetary and other practices at UCOP. The legislature, following the suggestion of the auditor, created a separate appropriation for UCOP and conditioned $50 million on satisfying the auditor's requirements. The question of the constitutional autonomy of the Regents was thus raised. Two regents discussed the implications. There was hint of possible legal action - all very vague at this point.

You can see the constitutional discussion below: