Nevada public service workers statewide have suffered from a big cut to public employees' health care benefits, made in July 2011. The new Public Employees' Benefits Program (PEBP) plan has such a high deductible that it covers only major medical problems.
Faculty and staff across the Nevada System of Higher Education have complained about it. Campus administrations have expressed sympathy and support for doing something about it, and nearly a year and a half ago the Chancellor appointed a PEBP Benefits Task Force
with three charges: seek immediate improvements in customer service from PEBP, research if NSHE could leave PEBP altogether and establish its own self-funded pool, and determine whether, in the meantime, NSHE can offer gap coverage as a supplemental benefit to its employees.
At each of the last three Board of Regents meetings, as well as at various public events in the fall of 2011, individual regents and the board have heard an earful from faculty and staff of UNLV and other NSHE institutions.
At UNLV, the chair of the Administrative Faculty committee (and an active NFA member), Shaun Franklin-Sewell, assisted in developing and implementing a survey to document faculty and staff concerns
and especially those who have declined coverage or bypassed prescribed treatments for reasons of cost. This survey was reported to the board in December and will be followed up this spring by an NSHE-wide survey.
At a Jan. 24 meeting of the UNLV Faculty Senate, and again at the Jan. 30 UNLV Town Hall, I (John Farley, president of the UNLV chapter of NFA) asked UNLV President Neal Smatresk a pointed question. We have heard the concerns of the faculty and staff, the Regents have expressed sympathy and a desire to act, and the NSHE Task Force is charged with developing a proposal for gap coverage as a supplemental benefit. So, when can we expect the topic of supplemental coverage to be put to the Board of Regents for action?
The UNLV NFA chapter urges the Board to put this item of gap coverage as a supplement to PEBP for 2012-2013 on its March agenda.