The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee statewide public hearings on the 2017-19 budget proposal last month and began voting on individual items last week. PROFS is meeting with university and legislative leaders to discuss several items in the budget proposal:
State funding tied to performance measures The Board of Regents would rank all UW institutions and distribute funds based on:
- Affordability/Attainability, 30%
- Student Success in State Workforce, 30%
- Work Readiness, 15%
- Efficiency, 10%
- Additional Criteria, 15%
UW Pay plan A pay plan tied to presumed savings from a switch to self-insurance (see below) for all state employees would be offered in 2018 and 2019.
Policy Items in the budget The co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said last month all policy items in the budget would be removed, but could be considered after being vetted in committee or as part of the committee’s omnibus motion. Several policy items dealt with the university:
- Require the Board of Regents to create policies for the monitoring and reporting of teaching workload and a mechanism to reward those who teach more than an undefined “standard academic workload.”
- Add language to state statutes that would give the university new power to regulate expression and criticism of that expression.
- Allow students to opt out of allocable segregated fees.
- Require institutions to develop 3-year degree programs.
- Require students to have internship/work experience before graduating.
- Require 60 credits transferable between UW and WTCS.
The Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance beginning in 2018, but the Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect. The committee received the formal recommendation to switch to self-insurance today and has 21 days to decide whether or not to reject the plan. The committee co-chairs and other members have publicly expressed concern over the plan in the past.
Video from the PROFS/ASPRO forum on self-insurance is here.
Campus Free Speech Legislation
Several legislators, including the chairs of the Legislature’s higher education committees, announced their plans to introduce legislation that would direct the Board of Regents to draft a free speech policy that encourages all points of view. Regents would also be required to create rules that discipline students who interfere with campus free speech. PROFS is concerned about the reach of these proposals and has begun working with UW free speech experts on a response to these proposals.
AB 299 (below), sponsored by Representative Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum) was introduced last week, and Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) intends to introduce legislation (below) later this month.
From the Department of Employee Trust Funds:
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about self-insurance in Wisconsin at the forum last month. ETF would like to direct people to the frequently asked questions on its website, as many of the questions from attendees are addressed here. Please also check the It’s Your Choice group health insurance section and other resources at etf.wi.gov.
Your questions are important to us and will help in developing future, relevant communications. Online information about group health insurance program changes for 2018 will be updated as soon as we know more details early this summer. For more timely information, please sign up for IYC E-Alerts: Health & Wellness and follow ETF on Twitter.
PROFS and ASPRO, the Academic Staff Professionals Representation Organization, are partnering to sponsor a public forum on self-insurance at 4 pm, Thursday, April 13 in the Plenary Room of Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board recommended a switch to self-insurance for all state employees beginning in 2018, and Governor Scott Walker has earmarked the projected savings to fund a pay plan for UW System employees and increase K-12 funding in the next biennium. The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee must review the proposed changes before they go into effect, and most of the committee has publicly expressed deep concern over the plan.
So where does that leave the proposal? PROFS and ASPRO have assembled a panel of experts who will share their knowledge about self-insurance and state employee health plans and take questions from the audience, including:
- Will the Group Insurance Board reduce the number of eligible health plans even if self-insurance fails?
- How will the state replace the earmarked funds if self-insurance fails?
- How might a switch to self-insurance affect the state’s health insurance marketplace?
- Are the projected savings from a switch realistic?
- Justin Sydnor, UW-Madison School of Business Associate Professor, Risk and Insurance. Sydnor is an applied microeconomist specializing in behavioral economics. His interests include the study of risk aversion and insurance choices, discrimination, and issues surrounding self-control and commitment.
- Lisa Ellinger, Director of the Office of Strategic Health Policy, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF). Before joining ETF, Ellinger was the assistant director of the Wisconsin Health Project. She is also an alum of UW-Madison’s La Follette School of Public Affairs.
- Peter Farrow, General Manager and CEO of Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire. Farrow is past president of the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, an advocacy organization opposed to self-insurance. A graduate of Marquette University, he was previously Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Insurance in Wisconsin.
This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Video from the February 23 PROFS forum on self-insurance for state employees is embedded below.
The forum attracted more than 150 members of the university community. The panelists — UW-Madison School of Business professor Justin Sydnor; Lisa Ellinger, Director of Office of Strategic Health Policy with the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds; and Mike Bare, Research and Program Coordinator for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute — offered their thoughts on self-insurance and took questions from the audience.
Many thanks to the panelists for sharing their expertise and offering their invaluable insight on this important topic.
Governor Walker said in his State of the State address last month he would use savings from changes in state employee health insurance for increased funding for education. One option under consideration is switching from the current model of HMO’s to self-insurance.
The Wisconsin Group Insurance Board has begun the process to consider self-insurance and will vote Wednesday, February 17 on the language they will use for a request for proposals from companies that may help with self-insurance in the state.
In recent years two different consultants provided very different cost savings estimates to the board, and the board is hoping new information will help them decide whether or not to move ahead with self-insurance. Background information is available here.
PROFS will host a forum on self-insurance and what that means for state employees, including UW-Madison faculty. The forum will be held Tuesday, February 23 at 4 pm in the DeLuca Forum in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard Street. It is free and open to the public.
The panel includes UW-Madison School of Business professor Justin Sydnor; Lisa Ellinger, Director of Office of Strategic Health Policy with the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds; and Mike Bare, Research and Program Coordinator for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.
UW System Tenure Policy Task Force
PROFS actively followed the work of UW System’s Tenure Policy Task Force, which concluded its work in December and released updated layoff and post-tenure review language in January. The Regent Education Committee will review the proposed language on February 5 and full board action is expected in March.
PROFS Forum on Self-insurance for State Employees
PROFS will host a public forum on the possibility of self-insurance for state employees later this month (details to come). The Wisconsin Group Insurance Board has received conflicting reports on if self-insurance would save or cost the state millions of dollars and will vote February 17 vote on whether or not to issue a request for proposals on such a move.
The Assembly and Senate are currently meeting in their last scheduled floor period of 2016, but could reconvene in special or extraordinary sessions. PROFS is monitoring and lobbying on several items, including:
- Assembly Bill 305/Senate Bill 260, Limits on Scientific Research PROFS officially registered and delivered testimony against AB 305 and SB 260, proposals that would make it illegal to provide or use for experimentation fetal body parts. If passed, the bills would criminalize the research and use of scientific material previously derived from fetal tissue. Both bills have passed out of committee but have not been scheduled for a vote. PROFS will continue to strongly oppose the proposals, which have far-reaching negative consequences on campus.
- Assembly Bill 480/Senate Bill 363, Campus Concealed Carry PROFS is registered against AB SB 363, legislation that would require UW System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses to allow concealed carry of weapons in campus buildings. Current law permits concealed carry on campus grounds, but allows individual campuses to forbid weapons in buildings. PROFS is vigorously opposed to this legislation telling legislators in a statement that “we believe that making it easier for people to carry firearms and bring them onto university property would make it more dangerous for the faculty, staff and student of the University of Wisconsin.”
- Assembly Bill 814, Shared Governance PROFS is registered in favor of this bill, recently introduced by Representative Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), which would return university shared governance to state statutes. PROFS worked with Hesselbein on the bill, and PROFS president Judith Burstyn spoke in favor of the proposal at a press conference announcing the legislation in December.
- Tenure Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) will introduce legislation restoring strong tenure language to state statutes. PROFS will register in favor of this proposal once the bill is introduced.
- College Affordability Package The Governor announced a package of six bills that address college affordability last month. All six bills passed the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities last week.