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Friday, July 21, 2017

Money for UC Law Schools

UC Law Schools Win Bid to Intervene in Case Awarding $45M for Botched Mortgage

Karen Sloan, The Recorder, July 20, 2017

University of California law schools and two consumer rights legal organizations have won a bid to intervene in a lawsuit where they stand to receive a collective $40 million in punitive damages from Bank of America. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein of the Eastern District of California found that the law schools and consumer protection groups acquired standing in the suit when they were unexpectedly made third-party beneficiaries of the total $45 million in punitive damages awarded in a case where Bank of America severely botched its handling of a Sacramento-area couple's mortgage.

Klein ruled in March that a large damage award was necessary to garner the attention of the bank's board of directors and spotlight its poor treatment of mortgage holders. He also ruled that the bulk of the $45 million in damages should go to groups—such as the five law schools affiliated with the University of California—that can help prevent banks from taking advantage of consumers. It's an unorthodox provision and unlike the more common cy pres award, whereby entities such as law schools receive funds from class action lawsuits.

"If the punitive damages award is later reduced or disapproved, then [the intervening entities] will be adversely and pecuniarily affected within the meaning of conventional understandings of standing," Klein wrote in his July 13 opinion allowing the schools and the National Consumer Law Center and National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center to intervene in the suit...

Full article at http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202793503568/UC-Law-Schools-Win-Bid-to-Intervene-in-Case-Awarding-45M-for-Botched-Mortgage

Hoping to Waive Him Goodbye?

Berkeley's new chancellor can't be looking forward to this event, whenever it occurs.

UC Berkeley Offers to Waive Venue Fee for Right-Wing Speaker

US News, 7-20-17
University of California, Berkeley is now offering to waive a venue fee for former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro to speak on campus on the date Berkeley College Republicans requested, school officials said Thursday afternoon. New UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ made the decision out of a commitment to free speech, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said.
Campus Republicans requested a room that could accommodate 500 people for guest speaker Shapiro on Sept. 14, Mogulof said. He said earlier Thursday that all venues large enough and free of charge to student organizations were already booked for Sept. 14, the only proposed date the group offered.
"The event will either take place in a smaller venue or the university will foot the bill for a larger venue that's available," Mogulof said. "All the details will have to be worked out with them, but I'm optimistic."
Berkeley College Republicans vice president Naweed Tahmas did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment Thursday evening. The waived fee depends on which venue the two agree to.
Despite the waived fee, the student group will still need to pay for basic security costs per university policy, school officials said...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Details, Details

Along with the budget, the legislature passes various requirements, i.e., things it wants recipients of funding to do. The $50 million for UC conditioned on meeting the terms of the recent state audit is an example. But there seems to be a (bad) case of micromanagement in the request below:

Item 6440-001-0001—University of California

1. University of California—Contracts With Medical Laboratories. On or before January 1, 2018, the University of California (UC) shall report to the Legislature on the following issues: (a) the number of outside medical laboratories for which UC currently contracts; (b) the value of each contract; (c) a summary of any efforts UC has made to date to consolidate its contracts with outside laboratories; and (d) a summary of Vizient’s recommendations to UC on consolidating contracts with outside laboratories.

page 22.

Vizient - the organization named above - seems to be a consulting firm in Texas dealing with the medical area. Yours truly first thought the provision was an attempt to discourage outsourcing. But on its face, it seems instead to favor more efficient outsourcing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Despite removal of 70% retiree health care floor from July regents' agenda, issue isn't dead

Letter below reproduced by permission:

July 17, 2017

Dear President Napolitano,

The UC Berkeley Emeriti Association (UCBEA) is very troubled about the proposal to rescind the 70 percent floor for the University’s aggregate annual contribution to the retiree health benefit program.  Our concerns have been well articulated by our colleagues from other campuses.  Essentially, they are centered on two general themes: 
  • Governance: The agenda item was added without prior notification or consultation with the Academic Senates or the Councils of Emeriti and Retiree Associations.
  • Financial: There were no details as to the fiscal necessity of this proposed change, no analysis of the financial burden on retirees, and no mention of the impact this would have on recruiting and retaining faculty and staff.
While we appreciate the removal of the proposal from the July agenda, it apparently will be on the agenda for the September Regent’s Finance and Capital Strategies Committee.  In the interim, UCOP must be more sensitive to the long tradition of shared governance and consult with the various stakeholders such as the Academic Senates and the various emeriti associations.  Further, UCOP must be more transparent about the underlying data and analyses that led to this agenda item in the first place.

The emeriti of our wonderful university make an enormous contribution to scholarship and pedagogy.  I draw your attention to John Vohs’ “Eleventh Campus” (see link: 
http://cucea.ucsd.edu/documents/AVirtualEleventhCampus.pdf) and the contribution of UC Berkeley’s emeriti to our campus (see link:

By placing such an important item on the Regent’s agenda without prior consultation and discussion is, at best, disrespectful to our emeriti.  The following recent communication (with his permission) by Professor Emeritus Richard Mathies captures the frustration we have been hearing from many of our colleagues: “Hmmm--- So I have been writing grants, doing research, and advising students and postdocs for free since July of 2013, just brought in a $3M grant from NASA that will support a lot of people at Berkeley (and hopefully lead to putting an instrument on Enceladus and or Europa) brought in many millions of dollars of royalty payments into the campus over the years, and the Regents want to secretly reduce their support for my retiree health care!  Its insulting to see how they respect and reward 40 years working for this institution. I am changing my will terms.  Not your fault but perhaps you can use this message to influence someone.”

We look forward to your acting on our concerns before this issue is brought to the Regents.

On behalf of UCBEA, sincerely yours,

John Swartzberg

President, UCBEA

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Update: Explainer on Blue Shield/Blue Cross Mix-Up

Yesterday, we noted that retirees were having health care bills sent to former carrier Blue Shield when the current carrier (since Jan. 1) is Blue Cross.* Apparently, the work-around is for retirees to ignore communications coming from Blue Shield.

Here is a further explanation from a reliable source:

Some of our Medicare members continue to receive Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from Blue Shield of CA (denials) for claims incurred in 2017.  The reason for this is due to CMS/Medicare’s “crossover” process, by which the claimants’ secondary plan (such as the UC Medicare PPO and High Option plan) receives claims directly from CMS once Medicare has adjudicated the claim.  CMS is informed of the retiree’s supplemental plan via an electronic feed from the carrier.  Unfortunately, CMS still has Blue Shield’s crossover in place and Blue Shield has not been able to correct the information electronically. 

Therefore, Blue Shield is manually updating UC retirees’ records to correct the crossover and anticipates these updates will be completed by next week. After that, CMS will still have to update their system which usually takes about 2 more weeks, after which the issue will be resolved.

The good news is that Medicare also has Anthem’s crossover in place (along with Blue Shield’s) so the 2017 claims are being processed twice – once under Anthem where the claims adjudicate correctly and also under Blue Shield where the same claims are (correctly) denied.  The result is that two EOBs are sent to the member, causing confusion and concern. To date, there are 947 members affected.

If you receive a call from a member about this, please share with them that claims are being sent to both Blue Shield and Anthem now and that Anthem is processing these claims correctly.  For 2017 claims, members should disregard the Blue Shield denial EOBs. 

Anyway, if you are getting stuff from Blue Shield, now you know how to deal with it:
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*http://uclafacultyassociation.blogspot.com/2017/07/change-is-hard.html

Sign of the Times


Click to enlarge
California law now requires that one-person restrooms with locking doors be all-gender. See: https://www.mrllp.com/blog-transgender-bathroom-laws-in-california-what-employers-lara-shortz. However, there is also an official boycott - that explicitly includes UC - regarding use of funds for travel to states which are listed by the state attorney general as having laws fostering "discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people." See:
https://oag.ca.gov/ab1887.

The sign above, recently noticed by yours truly, seems to be part of this issue, although it is posted on a restroom that is for more than one person and isn't locked. Oddly, not all single-gender restrooms in the building have this sign. Notably, the large men's restroom on the first floor of the same building where there are classrooms - and thus heavy usage - did not have such a sign (as of yesterday afternoon).

Monday, July 17, 2017

Change is Hard

UC changed insurance carriers from Blue Shield to Blue Cross last January 1. But for retired employees, bills kept being sent to Blue Shield which, of course, rejected them. Currently, the situation is that bills are being sent to both carriers and thus retirees get rejections from Blue Shield but bills are being paid by Blue Cross. See the announcement below from the UCLA Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center (ERRC):

------

Update on Blue Shield/Anthem Transition Issues 

The Emeriti/Retirees Relations Center recently received this information from the UC Office of the President:

Some retirees who are enrolled in Anthem/Blue Cross Medicare health care plans continue to receive Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from Blue Shield of CA, denying coverage for claims incurred in 2017.   

This issue has occurred with the recent change from Blue Shield to Anthem/Blue Cross. Blue Shield has not been able to correct the crossover information with Medicare electronically so each retiree record must be changed manually.  
 
The good news is Anthem's crossover is in place with Medicare so claims are being paid correctly by them. However, you may receive two different EOBs for 2017 claims - one from Anthem stating that the claim has been paid and one from Blue Shield stating that the same claim has been denied. 
 
For 2017 claims, please disregard the Blue Shield denial EOBs. Claims are being correctly paid by Anthem/Blue Cross. The issue should be completely resolved within the next three weeks.

We realize that this has caused confusion for retirees. Questions or concerns should be directed to the Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC) at 1(800) 888-8267.