March 3, 2011–11 a.m.
Retired Teachers Memorial Building
The meeting was called to order by Vice President Melinda Homola at 11:05 a.m. at the Retired Teachers Memorial Building, 3930 E. Saginaw Way, Fresno. Approximately 300 FURA members were present.
Melinda introduced the following guest speakers: Gwen Sittner, FUSD Health Benefits Office and Joseph Van Orsdel, Consultant to the Joint Health Management Board; Delta Health, administrators of the health plan for Fresno Unified, represented by Franceen Hanley, Delta Health Field Representative, Christy Scharton, and Lynette McCulloch, Delta Health Customer Services and Claims Managers.
Mr. Van Orsdel shared a brief overview of his responsibility as consultant to the Joint Health Management Board. He noted that his primary task was to monitor the solvency of the District’s Health Plan along with budgetary responsibilities within the administration of the medical and prescription programs. He explained the charge of the Joint Health Management Board and a brief history of its inception. In addition, he noted that the District is currently solvent with a substantial reserve. In conclusion, he stated that the JHMB is trying to keep health costs under control and is working very closely with area hospitals in that regard.
The aforementioned guests spoke in great detail as well as entertained questions regarding the new District Health Plans–Options A and B Benefits Open Enrollment process currently in progress which will take effect April 1, 2011. The representatives also clarified some questions posed by FURA members regarding coverage procedures, deductibles, processing of claims, portability of the District Health plan both domestically and, should the need arise, while traveling in foreign countries.
Carole asked Gwen Sittner to brief the members regarding the timeline for issuing the health premium reimbursement checks. Gwen stated her department is waiting for directives from the attorneys representing the District and FURA to release the checks. A target date of early April is planned.
The Vision Plan update was presented by FURA President Carole Sarkisian-Bonard. It was her understanding that the vision and dental plan availability for those retirees who retired before 2009 will be reviewed by the Joint Health Management Board. Our attorney has sent a letter to the District regarding the eligibility of those pre-2009 retirees. Carole added that she has fielded at least 377 calls from FURA members who are interested in vision insurance. It was also her understanding that there would be no added cost to the District for including aforementioned retirees. She added that , to her knowledge, this issue has not been brought to the Board of Education’s attention as of this meeting.
Carole along with Cathy Franzell, who represented FURA II, clarified the differences of FURA I, FURA II, FURA III. FURA I is comprised of those retirees who are part of the class-action lawsuit and who retired prior to April 17, 2006. The lawsuit is over and has been judged in FURA’s favor. The date of April 17 was designated by the court as the cut-off date because it was the date the letter from the District was initiated and sent to retirees mandating payment of health premiums.
FURA II is comprised of those retirees (approximately 85) who retired during the period of April 18, 2006 to July 31, 2006 and referred to as the “Gap Group” . The District’s legal representative during the court session of November 5, 2010 questioned the April 17 cut-off date stating that teachers work through June; that those wanting to retire July 31 should be grandfathered in by the District. This action was not part of the lawsuit but does appear in the court transcripts as discussed. Both attorneys agreed to the suggestion and Judge Franson was to review the issue and return a tentative ruling. Letters prepared to this effect have been submitted to the Board of Education by FURA attorneys. However, as of this date, there has not been a reply from the District.
FURA III consists of those retirees who retired after July 31, 2006 to the present. Most were hired and worked under the contracts prior to 2006; however, subsequently the bargaining units negotiated to make changes to the contracts which have been deemed as ” reasonable modifications” regarding health care premiums. These contractual changes have been ratified and approved by the Board of Education. Carole asked for a show of hands of retirees who fall into this category and approximately a dozen or so were in attendance.
Barbara Thomas, FURA’s treasurer was asked to speak to the issue of annual dues. She reviewed the suggestion of the Steering Committee to assess FURA members a nominal annual fee to upkeep the organization. The poll went out in the last newsletter and returns indicated that a majority opted for a $20 annual charge. It was moved and seconded by Steven Deak and Sally Alvid, respectively, that the annual dues be set for the amount of $20. Checks should be forwarded to Barbara Thomas c/o FURA , P.O. Box 1717, Clovis, CA 93613-1717.
Barbara also reminded the group that changes of mailing addresses be made available to FURA and that email address changes be forwarded to Don Kisner, FURA’s webmaster; that we need to keep our lists current in the interest of expedient communication to all our members.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 1 p.m.
Florence Deak, Recording Secretary