Faculty Senate approves health care resolution

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After roughly two hours of discussion and debate during a special meeting, the Faculty Senate voted 93-15 to approve an amended resolution supporting the University's suspension of the penalties for noncompliance with the wellness initiative in the Take Care of Your Health Plan.

The resolution further requested the suspension of the additional surcharge for coverage for spouses and same-sex domestic partners, citing the financial hardship on faculty and staff with lower salaries; the use of policy experts, both within the University Senate and throughout the Penn State community, in an effort to fairly evaluate the alternatives for controlling health care expenses; and engagement of the faculty and staff in a dialog, soliciting their views on how benefits changes would impact their health, finances and productivity. The Senate resolution also spelled out the body's expectations for how the announced health care task force should be populated.

The resolution calls for an update on reforms to the Take Care of Your Health initiative to be brought before the full University Senate by its last regular meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday April 29, 2014.

The resolution was amended several times before it was voted on and passed. The most significant change came to the first point, which initially called for a "a one-year moratorium on implementation of the Take Care of Your Health initiative."

In endorsing the change to support for the suspension of the surcharge related to the wellness initiative, Sen. Mohamad Ansari, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State Berks, commended Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones for his presentation with David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business/treasurer, to the Senate Council, in which they announced the University's suspension of the surcharge. "One of the times that I really was delighted to hear an administrator talking about shared governance with joy was (at the special Senate Council meeting) on Sept. 17 from Provost Jones. He reiterated his remarks today, and it is welcome news for all of the faculty and staff at this University, especially the Faculty Senate," Ansari said. Jones and Gray both stood for questions at the special meeting held today (Sept. 24).

The full text of the adopted resolution follows:

Resolution as approved at the University Faculty Senate meeting
on Sept. 24, 2013:

Be it resolved that it is the sense of the University Faculty Senate of the Pennsylvania State University that:

1. We support the University’s suspension of the penalties for non-compliance with the Take Care of Your Health initiative and request a suspension of the additional $100 surcharge for coverage for spouses and domestic partners.

2. The University shall draw on policy experts, both within the University Senate, and throughout the Penn State community in an effort to fairly evaluate the alternatives for controlling healthcare expenses.

3. The University shall engage the faculty and staff in a dialog, soliciting their views on how benefits changes would impact their health, finances and productivity.

4. On or by the last regular University Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday April 29, 2014 a revised proposal containing any needed reforms to the Take Care of Your Health initiative shall be brought before the full University Senate for a vote of approval.

5. A health care task force, appointed to revise the administration’s ‘Take Care of Your Health’ initiative should be organized as follows:

a. A minimum of 12 members

b. One-third of the members appointed by the administration

c. One-third of the members elected by faculty senators from among members of the University Senate.

d. One-third of the members, appointed jointly by the administration, the University Senate Council, and the Staff Advisory Council, to include health policy experts, legal experts and staff representatives.

Contacts: 
Last Updated September 25, 2013