Minutes for CEPAC 2-9-00:

I). Old Business:

 

II). Committee Reports:

First of all, there is a subcommittee currently considering adding some type

of vision coverage back to our plan. I will know more about this after our

meeting in Helena on March 9. Whatever the InterUnits Committee adopts,

however, will NOT replace exactly what our plan used to offer. Please

understand that we are a SELF-INSURED plan, and the plan just cannot afford

to add anything which will cost it additional money at this time. (More on

this problem later!) What will PROBABLY be added is a voluntary or optional

discount plan where university employees will get some sort of discount at

participating doctors and dispensing opticians. The committee is doing

everything it can to make sure everyone who needs an eye exam, glasses, or

contacts will be able to afford to get them.

Second, allowing a limited number of Viagra tablets under our pharmacy plan

was discussed and will continue to NOT be covered for the following reasons:

 

(1) Our plan does not, and will continue to not cover sexual

dysfunction. The plan simply cannot afford to cover any of these costs, for

any reason, period. Just like orthodontic braces, which may be necessary

for medical reasons, we just don't cover it. (2) Our industry consultant

informs us that very few plans nationally cover any Viagra expense, and most

plans that initially covered it have not discontinued coverage (the Montana

state employee plan included). And (3) adding even a limited number of

tablets a month is estimated to increase our pharmacy costs by 3% to 5%, or

anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 annually. Again, we just can't afford to

add this cost. Plan members needing Viagra are advised to accommodate the

expense under our Flex Medical plan.

I want everyone who strongly disagreed with covering Viagra to understand

that the request was brought to me by a plan member and I made a commitment

to that person that this issue would get a full and fair hearing under the

new InterUnits Benefits Committee. I presented the arguments, which I

respect and basically agreed with, but we all (myself included) agreed that

this is just not something the plan can afford to do. So please don't fault

me or the Plan for considering what many of you see as such a "frivolous"

issue - this is a serious issue to at least one of our members, and I am

prepared to do the same for any one of you who has a legitimate concern.

We did not have time to consider changes on any screenings, tests, or plan

allowances for same at yesterday's meeting.

Committee members are currently putting together information on our Plan's

financial health and projections for the future, which we will present

either at campus-wide meetings or individual communication avenues. Stay

tuned!

I'd like to clarify the InterUnits Committee's recommendation to the

Commissioner of Higher Education to allow same-sex domestic partners under

the plan. This was an almost unanimous recommendation, after MUCH

consideration and discussion over several months. First of all, this will

not require a MARRIAGE of these partners, which is not legal in the state of

Montana. (Which is exactly why the committee agreed that there is a

discrimination problem. If a marriage were legal, there would be no

issue.) We currently offer coverage to all married spouses, including those

who sign an affidavit declaring a marriage, which is legal in Montana.

Same-sex partners will be required to submit a legal affidavit declaring

their committed relationship, which will require proof of that commitment

such as joint ownership of property, joint bank accounts, etc., things which

demonstrate a commitment of responsibility for each other. As a matter of

fact, we will have to be careful that we are not requiring more of these

couples not allowed to marry than we do of those declaring a common law

marriage.

Our industry consultant researched this issue extensively, and informed us

that there are many plans out there nationally which have already been

offering this for several years. Their experience has shown that they had

basically no negative financial impact to those plans. So we do not

anticipate any additional costs to our current members by including same-sex

partners.

Based on these findings, we as a committee felt that this was the right

thing to do and recommended that it be done.

Although currently exempted by law, we also felt it was the right thing to

do to bring our Plan into compliance with recent legislation requiring that

plans in Montana treat specified severe mental illnesses the same as we

treat physical illnesses. There are nine specific illnesses specified, such

as schizophrenia and bi-polar disease, which will be covered.

 

III). New Business:

Carol will provide more info

Next Meeting: March 08, Presidentís Conference Room. Montana Hall