Secova Audit Update

UCW-CWA keeps pressure on higher education administration to help with Secova Audit completion process.

Since the state of Tennessee announced the Secova run audit of employee insurance benefits for plans with dependents, UCW-CWA has been leading efforts to inform public higher education employees of the process and pressuring HR departments at public universities across the state.

In late July, United Campus Workers sent out action alerts to state legislators and higher education administrators letting them know of our concerns regarding the health insurance dependent eligibility audit being conducted by Secova, especially its poor timing for many higher education employees. These alerts had a resounding effect: we received responses almost immediately from state staff members involved in publicizing the audit, lawmakers began to raise questions about how the audit was being handled, and both UT Interim President Simek and TBR Chancellor Manning sent clarifying e-mails to higher-ed employees. Increased communication on many campuses was a direct result of our actions. At the University of Memphis, for instance, the response included open houses, tabling, and information sessions conducted by HR to assist employees with the forms.

Information we received from the state on August 31st showed that no documentation had been provided for 18.5% of dependents covered through UT employees statewide and for 26.7% of dependents covered through TBR employees statewide. With the deadline looming, all our chapters stepped up the pressure with follow-up letters and phone calls. At MTSU, chapter leaders sent letters to HR Director Kathy Musselman requesting actions like those taken by HR at the University of Memphis and offering union support with staffing open houses, calling employees who had not responded, etc.

The UT Knoxville chapter mobilized a delegation of members on August 31st to the HR office to present a letter requesting similar outreach activities, and again offering union support. HR’s initial response was to refer us to Payroll and push us on our way, but we persevered. The delegation left with the assurance that the people we spoke with would give our letter to Dr. Chesney and contact UCW President Tom Anderson later in the afternoon.

The response was quicker and better than we could have hoped. Within 45 minutes, Pres. Anderson received a call from Dr. Katie High, Chief of Staff to UT Pres. Simek, inviting him to meet with her, Robert Chance, Director of Payroll for the entire UT System, and Associate Vice President Neal Wormsley. Within three hours, Linda Hendricks, head of HR for the UT system, had e-mailed Pres. Anderson responding to the union’s concerns and referring to the coming meeting with Dr. High et al. An important point - and a major concession - in all these communications is that for the first time university administrators officially contacted Pres. Anderson as President of UCW, not as a “concerned individual employee.”

The meeting Tuesday morning was very cordial and positive. Again, as with the email from Ms. Hendricks, the conversation involved the President of UCW, not simply a single concerned higher-education employee. In that meeting, Pres. Anderson pressed them with the importance of offering face-to-face assistance at accessible central locations with phone, FAX, and computer access.

By the end of the meeting, Dr. High, Mr. Chance, and Mr. Wormsley had scheduled a UTK open house and promised that a flyer would be posted in all departments in high-visibility areas for maximum exposure. Dr. High promised the same would be done at each campus in the UT system. UCW members confirm that one such open house was conducted at UT Chattanooga at the HR offices in Race Hall. In addition to these flyers with all locations listed for each campus, UT Pres. Simek sent e-mail with the same information to all UT employees statewide.

This campaign shows what we can accomplish when we all work together! Unfortunately, it is not likely to be the last time we have to fight for our access - or that of our families - to health care. We can expect to face more surcharges (such as the one currently planned for smokers), more audits, and more denials for pre-existing conditions. To have any voice in these deliberations, we need a united organization of, for, and run by workers. We need United Campus Workers.

Press Release on State Health Insurance Dependent Coverage Audit