Nevada Faculty Alliance

NFA News Archive

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 19 Feb 2018 10:29 AM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Updates can be found on the negotiations blog:

  • 06 Dec 2017 4:05 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Kent Ervin, NFA Legislative Liaison, provides the following update regarding PEBP benefits changes for 2018-2019:

    A summary of the Public Employees’ Benefits Program Board actions from the November board meeting is available on the PEBP website.  The Board accepted most all of Executive Officer Damon Haycock's recommendations for plan year 2019 changes, effective July 1, 2018.  That includes (1) replacing the northern HMO with an Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) with similar features and using over $10M of excess reserves generated by the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) to cover the associated increased risks for self-funding the EPO; and (2) not approving a $1 or $2/month per year of service additional employer contribution to the HRA (Health Reimbursement Account) for retirees on the Medicare Exchange. These two items were linked in the staff recommendation to the board because the extra reserves allocated for the EPO did not leave enough funds for increasing the HRA contribution for Medicare retirees.  Also, the board expanded PEBP's subrogation powers via regulation (although with coverage of the participant's out-of-pocket costs from any recovery). Several minor enhancements to the HDHP were approved as outlined in the summary. Additional requirements were added for “earning” the supplemental $200/year HSA/HRA contribution for HDHP participants. Other proposed HDHP plan benefits or increased HSA/HRA contributions were rejected, also because of potential costs of the EPO.

    NFA’s positions on these issues are available in our public comments to the PEBP Board posted at In particular, NFA spoke against using excess reserves generated by the HDHP program and participants to establish the new EPO plan.

    The northern HMO/EPO decision is essentially irrevocable because the northern HMO contract will be terminated in January effective June 30, 2018.  The other decisions are not quite set in stone because the final rates and plan features will be addressed at the January and March board meetings.  NFA recommends that you review the plan design changes and make your opinions known:

    Dr. Chris Cochran (southern NSHE representative on PEBP Board)

    Dr. John Packham (northern NSHE representative on PEBP Board)

    Patrick Cates (PEBP Board Chair)

    Damon Haycock (PEBP Executive Officer)

  • 29 Nov 2017 2:16 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    The following testimony was provided to the PEBP Board by NFA Legislative Liaison Kent Ervin, on behalf of NFA:

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance (NFA) is the statewide association of faculty at all eight NSHE institutions, most of whom participate in the Public Employees’ Benefits Program along with other state employees. We are the state affiliate of the American Association of University Professors.

    The NFA appreciates the efforts of PEBP to protect program interests via subrogation efforts when a third party may be responsible for medical expenses incurred by PEBP. We also strongly agree with the part of the regulation that says the out-of-pocket medical costs for the participant should be covered first and in whole from any recovery.

    We are however concerned that the subrogation actions by the lawyers hired by Healthscope can at times be overly aggressive, particularly when the party being pursued is the participant or a close relative or their own insurance companies. When a participant buys homeowners or automotive liability insurance, they are doing it to protect themselves, not to protect PEBP or to lower PEBP premiums for others. The examples provided in the Board packet sound innocuous—involving traffic accidents with an unrelated third party at fault. However, the proposed regulations allow subrogation actions against, say, the grandmother of a PEBP participant’s covered child when a simple accident (neither intentional nor negligent) occurred in her home. Should PEBP and by extension the State as employer really be pursuing such a case? It is questionable whether the applicable statute actually was intended to apply to first party coverage, since it refers to legal liability rather than contractual liability created by purchase of an insurance policy.

    We recommend that the Board restrict the subrogation efforts to third party coverages only. A minimum alternative would be to create a policy to evaluate the merit of cases against participants or their close relatives. The decision to pursue a subrogation case should not be primarily based on money potential by Healthscope’s “vendors”—their hired lawyers—as it is described on page 12 of the Health Claims Auditors report (agenda item 4.3).

    Thank you. 

  • 29 Nov 2017 2:15 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    The following testimony was provided to the PEBP Board by NFA Legislative Liaison Kent Ervin, on behalf of NFA:

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance (NFA) is the statewide association of faculty at all eight NSHE institutions, most of whom participate in the Public Employees’ Benefits Program along with other state employees.

    The NFA greatly appreciates the hard work of the PEBP staff and the PEBP Board to maintain our health insurance program in the face of rising costs and budgetary constraints. It is a difficult task to balance diverse interests in a program with many moving targets.

    Regarding the HMO options (agenda item 10), we recommend caution. Although we understand that the HMO option is in distress due to rapidly rising costs, it is difficult to evaluate the proposed self-funded Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) alternative because neither estimates of the rates nor the methodology to set the rates have been provided. The Board should ask for a better understanding before proceeding. We are also concerned about the rushed implementation of an entirely new program.

    Our biggest reservation is that the higher risks requiring a $10M to $15M increase in the Catastrophic Reserves are proposed to be absorbed by Excess Reserves from the CDHP program. Those Excess Reserves were created on the shoulders of CDHP participants and, arguably, retirees who were moved along with their higher risk pool to the Medicare Exchange. The Excess Reserves from the CDHP should not be used to fund the Catastrophic Reserves for a new EPO plan. Instead, if an EPO is implemented, it should be priced to fund its own share of the Catastrophic Reserves over an appropriate phase-in period of several years. To reduce the rate impact, the confidence level for the EPO catastrophic reserves could be phased in, reaching the desirable 95% level after a few years. That is what would necessarily happen with a completely new self-funded program, or if there were no excess reserves in another program. The existing Catastrophic Reserve does provide a buffer in case of poor EPO experience during the phase-in period.

    Thank you. 

  • 29 Nov 2017 2:12 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    The following testimony was provided to the PEBP Board by NFA Legislative Liaison Kent Ervin, on behalf of NFA:

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance (NFA) is the statewide association of faculty at all eight NSHE institutions, most of whom participate in the Public Employees’ Benefits Program along with other state employees. We are the state affiliate of the American Association of University Professors.

    Thank you again for your hard work in managing our health benefits program. With the CDHP plan, we again see a situation of unallocated reserves well in excess of the actuarial prediction. While that is certainly more pleasant to deal with than a shortfall, it means that the CDHP participants have not received all the benefits that they could have received with the level of funding from both employee and employer contributions. While retroactive changes are not possible, the excess reserves need to be used to “pay back” equitably those participants that helped create it.

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance recommends the following priorities for use of excess reserves, highest priorities first, beyond continuing existing PY18 plan features and the recommended cost-containment strategies (which we support):

    1) Employee contributions to CDHP premiums should not increase in dollar amount for FY19 over FY18. An unknown amount might be needed for rate stabilization.

    2) Maintain/restore the $2-per-month contribution for retirees on the Medicare Exchange. The Exchange retirees are the only group who were not taken care of at all with legislative action in 2017, and they have arguably contributed to the build-up of the reserves by removing higher risk older individuals from the CDHP risk pool. Estimated cost $5.43M. Continuing this funding needs to be a high priority request at the next legislature.

    3) Add the preventive 3D mammography, at the low cost of $0.22M, as a base plan feature.

    4) Reduce the deductible and maximum out-of-pocket cost for CDHP participants. This helps most those who actually have high health care needs during the plan year (as opposed to increasing the HSA/HRA contribution for everyone). Specifically, we recommend reducing the deductible to the IRS minimum for a HDHP of $1350 (individual, double for families) and reducing the maximum out-of-pocket cost from $3900 to $3000, for an estimated total cost of $6.92M. The deductible would increase with the IRS minimum in future years, the out-of-pocket could be kept to at least twice the deductible, and this is one of the easiest design features to adjust in case of future shortfalls.

    5) Restore a vision benefit, at a maximum estimated cost of $1.22M assuming 100% utilization. Workers and retirees need good, fully-corrected eyesight to do their jobs and live comfortably. This should be a base benefit.

    6) Use the remainder of excess reserves to increase HSA/HRA contributions as a one-time spend-down. A $300/year increase in the HSA/HRA would cost $7.09M. We prefer the no-strings-attached option because future funding for a matching program is uncertain. It could be delayed until January 2019 in case of unanticipated contingencies.

    That represents a total of $20.88M, which roughly matches the available funds, not including rate stabilization if required.

    Thank you for the opportunity to provide this input. 

  • 02 Oct 2017 10:30 AM | David Steel (Administrator)
    Successful opposition to salary memo
    On July 24th, 2017, then-Acting Chancellor Jane Nichols issued a memo to the Council of Presidents calling for a freeze on various types of internally-funded salary adjustments.

    The Nevada Faculty Alliance opposed this memo. We spoke to legislators, Chancellor Thom Reilly, and ultimately raised the issue in testimony at the Board of Regents.

    NFA efforts proved successful, as Chancellor Thom Reilly has now issued a clarification memo rescinding most of the Nichols' memo.

    Resolution on salary
    At it's recent Sep. 9th meeting, the NFA State Board voted unanimously to approve the following resolution regarding faculty compensation:

    "NFA supports putting NSHE community colleges back on the step system for faculty salary increases, and that these increases be funded by the legislature, consistent with K-12 and state employees.

    NFA supports merit pay for NSHE universities and the state college, funded by the state or by the institutions."

    NFA will advocate for this viewpoint in all appropriate forums. To that end, we have submitted a list of three names to NSHE for consideration as possible nominees to the legislature's AB 202 committee, which will study faculty compensation along with the affordability and accessibility of higher education for Nevada students.

    Our recommended nominees are:
    Jeff Downs, WNC
    Glenn Miller, UNR
    Sandra Owens, UNLV

  • 22 Sep 2017 1:40 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    At the September Regents' meeting, NFA delivered the following testimony opposing then-Acting Chancellor Jane Nichols' memo ordering a freeze on various kinds of internally-funded faculty salary adjustments:

    Good morning Regents. My name is David Steel, S-T-E-E-L. I am the Executive Director of the Nevada Faculty Alliance, an organization representing faculty with members at all NSHE institutions, and the collective bargaining agent for faculty at TMCC, WNC, and CSN.

    I am here to express NFA's opposition to a memo issued by then-acting Chancellor Jane Nichols on July 24, 2017, ordering that NSHE institutions put a freeze on certain types of internally-funded salary adjustments. I am attaching the memo for the record.

    Internally-funded salary adjustments represent a small fraction of overall salary movement for faculty. However, this small portion is important, as can be seen in former Chancellor John White's March 2017 memo to Governor Sandoval's office, which showed how NSHE institutions have repeatedly made use of these processes over the last several years.

    Our first point of opposition to the memo is that such a dictate from the system office is unduly restrictive on the autonomy of the institutions to act as they see necessary regarding faculty salary.

    Our second point of opposition is that this memo has stalled our ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, of which we have two. At one school, it caused Administration to rescind without substitute the salary proposal they had made.

    Our third point of opposition is that the memo instructs the institutions to act contrary to the Procedures and Guidelines Manual. Chapter Three calls for an equity review of faculty salaries to be conducted on a biannual basis. But we've already had one institution state that it will not do a mandated equity study because of this memo.

    Our fourth point of opposition is that Jane Nichols used AB 202 as justification for the salary freeze. AB 202 is a 2017 bill that calls for studies regarding various aspects of NSHE, including one of faculty compensation. We spoke with sponsors of the bill AB 202, as well as other legislators who voted for the bill. They clearly expressed that it was not their intention for the bill to be used as a rationale to freeze internally-funded salary adjustments for faculty.

    Our final point in opposition of this memo is that we NFA, the bargaining agent for faculty at three NSHE institutions, were not consulted before-hand. Neither, as far as we can tell, were any faculty senates.

    To conclude, this memo ordering a freeze on various types of internally-funded faculty salary adjustments: (1) handcuffs institutional autonomy; (2) interferes with collective bargaining negotiations; and (3) goes against the Procedures and Guidelines Manual.

    We have spoken to Chancellor Thom Reilly about this matter. He has taken it under consideration, but has not yet formally responded. NFA asks that the Nichols memo be rescinded or at least mitigated, by Thom Reilly or if not, then by the Regents, so that the institutions can proceed with providing salary incentives to improve faculty retention, morale, and success.
  • 14 Jun 2017 10:58 AM | David Steel (Administrator)

    The 2017 Session of the Nevada Legislature adjourned on June 5 and Governor Sandoval has until Friday, June 16 to sign or veto bills. My full legislative wrap-up summary is linked here. NFA’s final bill watch list is here.

    One outstanding bill of faculty interest is SB200, which promotes computer science education in high schools (good), but mandates that NSHE accept a computer science course as substitute for math or science credits for college admission (bad for college math preparation especially for STEM majors and an overreach of legislative authority over curricular issues). Contact the Governor here.

    Governor Sandoval will hold bill-signing ceremonies at UNLV on Thursday 6/15 (SB457, SB548, SB 553) and at UNR on Friday 6/16 (AB69, AB522, SB546).

    Thank you very much for your support during the session and for contacting Senators and Assemblymembers on legislative issues.

    Best regards,

    Kent Ervin, Legislative Liaison

    Nevada Faculty Alliance

  • 07 Jun 2017 2:20 PM | David Steel (Administrator)

    NFA’s full post-session bill watch list is posted here. Bills of interest on the Governor’s desk for approval or veto are listed below.

    The big news from 11:50 pm on the final day of the session is the passage of SB368, which adds a 1% COLA each year of the biennium for all state employees including NSHE classified staff, academic faculty and administrative faculty, on a party line vote in the Senate and a few Republicans supporting in the Assembly. This is in addition to the 2% each year in AB517 and already signed into law. Contact the Governor to urge him to sign SB368 (and to take action on other bills listed below). Deadline for signatures is June 16, but action may happen any day.

    Other bills on Governor’s desk as of 6/6 awaiting signature or veto (BOLD for split votes or signature uncertain):

    AB94 NV Grow Program. $125K to CSN.

    AB407 Audit of Cooperative Extension and designates UNLV and DRI in addition to UNR as Land Grant institutions. Hearing 5/24 Passed Assembly 30-12, Passed Senate 15-6, north/south split.

    AB475 Kickstart program for College Savings Plan--accounts for kindergartners. Amended to add eligibility for graduate credits to Nv Pre-paid Tuition Program.

    AB511 $20M appropriation to Millenium Scholarship fund.

    AB522 $300K for NevadaTeach at UNR.

    SB200 Allows computer science/tech courses to count toward math requirement for H.S. graduation, college admission, and Millenium Scholarship. NSHE opposed to changing college admission requirement which would reduce math preparation.

    SB306 $300K to CSN for prison education pilot program.

    SB391 $3.5 M for Nevada Promise scholarship for community college students, with community service requirements.

    SB457 NSHE must award credit toward degrees for military training per a standards organization.

    SB478 Provisions for handling allegations against state workers including NSHE. Adds notice requirements. Changes time limits.

    SB546 Capital improvements projects statewide including UNR Engineering, UNLV Hotel Mgmt, CSN/NSC health science bldg, others. Failed 2/3 supermajority 12-9 in Senate. Passed re-vote 15-6 in Senate on 6/4 with Marijuana Tax/Opportunity Scholarships compromise. Passed Assy 34-8. To Governor.

    SB548 $1M for Nevada Teaching Institute to garner philanthropic gift. Not certain from hearing at which NSHE institution.

    SB551 PEBP employer contributions authorization, includes increases to cover rising medical costs.

    SB553 UNLV Engineering Bldg planning & design $1.75M match from general fund . Amended on final day to add $25M match for UNLV Med School building to anonymous donation. Reportedly part of deal for passage of SB546.

    Best regards,

    Kent Ervin, Legislative Liaison

    Nevada Faculty Alliance

  • 28 May 2017 11:50 AM | David Steel (Administrator)

    Dear colleagues:

    With a just 10 days left in the Legislative session, time and money are running out for funding of fair compensation for faculty and other state workers. The end game is all about Education Savings Accounts (a.k.a. vouchers). Many lobbyists in the building think their pet bill is the big bargaining chip, but I don’t know of any single cause that is as important to Democrats as ESAs/vouchers seem to be to Republicans. Improved state employee compensation including faculty merit is looking less likely but can still be addressed in the end-of-session compensation bill, which is being drafted now. The NFA is advocating for higher COLAs for all state employees as well as funding of faculty merit. Please contact decision makers with the contact information and talking points at this link.

    Our complete NFA bill watch list is linked here. Bills of particular interest or recent action:

    AB16 & AB407 Cooperative Extension unfunded mandate and north/south split. AB407 was heard on 5/20 Assembly Ways & Means with extensive testimony. New hearings could be scheduled at any time.

    AB188 Expands Silver State Opportunity Grant eligibility down to 12 credits (from 15 currently). Passed Senate with 2 Republican votes and sent to Governor.

    AB202 Interim study of higher education affordability and faculty compensation. Bipartisan passage, to Governor.

    AJR5 Removes Regents from Constitution. Amended in Senate LOE Committee to add academic freedom clause. Passed. Will come back to Legislature in 2019.

    SB384 Amended to make PERS info confidential except name, pension amount, and last employer, as favored by Governor. Passed on party lines, to Governor.

    SB486. Collective bargaining for state Classified employees. NFA testimony in support of including NSHE employees.

    SB502. Adds 2nd NSHE representative to PEBP Board and refines RFP procedures for PEBP and Nevada Deferred Comp. Passed unanimously in both houses and sent to Governor.

    Best regards,

    Kent Ervin, Legislative Liaison

    Nevada Faculty Alliance

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
© Nevada Faculty Alliance                                                                                                          Tel: (702) 530-4NFA

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software