EIU Annuitants Association 2013-14 Chapter Meetings
Meetings begin at 8:30 a.m. - Refreshments, Business Meeting, and Guest Speaker
Jan. 9, 2014 - Neal Welcome Center
April 2014 - 43rd Annual Luncheon (Date TBA)
July 10, 2014 - Neal Welcome Center
Oct. 9, 2014 - Neal Welcome Center
October 24 Chapter Meeting Minutes
I. Welcome and Announcement: President Julie Sterling welcomed guests and encouraged annuitants who are not members of EIUAA to join the Association. Membership dues are $3.00 per month, a sum which can be deducted monthly from one's annuitants paycheck or paid annually ($36.00) by check. Dues-paid members receive both the Fall and Spring EIUAA newsletter as well as e-mail updates. In future, non-members will receive only the Fall newsletter. Association members who do not have access to e-mail are asked to send Julie Sterling the name of a contact person (a relative or close friend) to whom EIUAA e-mails can be sent.
II. Business: Proposed Changes to EIUAA Constitution:
A. After noting that the proposed changes have been made to bring EIUAA's Constitution into conformity with the SUAA Constitution and/or into conformity with the practice of other boards with missions similar to ours, President Sterling summarized the changes as follows: (1) the phrase "Executive Committee" was replaced by the term "Board of Directors"; (2) one-year terms of office were established for the Board's President, President Elect, and Past President; (3) a number of new EIUAA Committees were established to assist the Board in carrying out EIUAA business; and (4) provision was made for EIUAA representation on the SUAA Board -- representation to consist of the EIUAA President and one or more additional Association member appointed by the President (the number of additional members to be determined by the number of dues-paid members in EIUAA).
ACTION: The proposed changes to the EIUAA Constitution were approved unanimously (F. McCormick/K. Ludwig-Konrad).
B. EIUAA Board Vacancies: The Board recommended that Scott Crawford be approved for a second three-year term on the Board and that Mary Anne Hanner be approved for an initial term of three years.
ACTION: Association members unanimously approved the appointment of Scott Crawford and Mary Anne Hanner to three-year terms of service on the EIUAA Board of Directors.
III. Treasurer's Report: Barb Funk reported that (1) only $5 of each Association member's annual membership fee is retained in the EIUAA treasury; the balance is sent to SUAA; (2) the Board has agreed to add another $1,000 to the EIUAA Scholarship corpus and to increase the annual scholarship award from $500 to $1,000 beginning in 2014; (3) On August 31 we had $4,818.19 in our account; the balance on September 30 was $5,059.39.
IV. Legislative Report: Jill Nilsen reported that the first three days of the General Assembly's six-day veto session were held on October 22, 23, and 24. Gun control, gay marriage, and pension "reform" are the principal items on the agenda -- none of them acted on as of today (Oct. 24). If the Pension Conference Committee agrees on a "reform" plan it will need to be drafted into legislation and voted on by the General Assembly. Audience members were urged to let their legislators know their opinions regarding any contemplated pension legislation and to speak with Representative Halbrook and Senator Righter in their offices while they are in town next week.
A.Vice-President Nilsen praised President Sterling for her splendid performance of her duties this year. Audience members signified their agreement by applauding Julie enthusiastically.
B. Denise Corray (EIU Benefits Office) announced that a Medicare Advantage informational symposium will be held on Wednesday, November 27 in the Grand Ballroom (MLK Student Union) on the EIU campus. There will be two sessions, one at 9:30 a.m., another at 1:30 p.m. CMS Deputy Director Janice Bonneville will make a presentation and answer questions concerning Medicare Advantage. Insurance vendors will also be present to offer information and answer questions regarding their Medicare Advantage plans.
C. President Sterling thanked the Lifespan staff for allowing EIUAA to use their facility. She added that beginning on October 30, annuitants may call the Lifespan Center (639-5150) to set up an appointment with a SHIP (Senior Health Insurance Program) counselor to receive help with their Medicare questions.
VI. Presentation by Janice Bonneville, Deputy Director, CMS: Ms. Bonneville began by encouraging all Medicare-eligible annuitants to attend the Medicare Advantage symposium scheduled for November 27. (See section V.B above for details. Information presented at the November 27 symposium will also be accessible on the CMS website.) She added that her remarks concerning the state of Illinois Medicare Advantage plans both today and on November 27 would pertain only to annuitants and their dependents who are already receiving both Medicare Part A and Part B. Persons in that category -- i.e., annuitants and their dependents currently receiving Medicare Part A and Part B -- MUST enroll in one of the state-approved Medicare Advantage plans OR opt out of state health coverage. For residents of Coles County there are two Medicare Advantage plan choices: (1) United Healthcare PPO and (2) Coventry Advantra HMO. Both plans are offered by private vendors. Both plans include Medicare Parts A, B, and D (with no "doughnut hole" in the prescription coverage). And with both plans, it is the vendor, not federal Medicare, who pays the annuitant's health care bills.
Ms. Bonneville advised annuitants that the following communications from CMS will arrive in their mailboxes in the coming weeks and months: (1) a letter printed on canary yellow paper supplying basic information (e.g., rates for dependents) concerning state Medicare Advantage plans, to be mailed this week; (2) a postcard reminder concerning the enrollment period, to be sent on October 30; (3) an "enrollment kit," to be sent on November 7; and (4) a reminder (to be sent on December 2) to turn in the enrollment form by December 13, 2013. Signature of member and dependents must be affixed to the completed eight-page form.
State-approved Medicare Advantage vendors will send details of their plans in the coming week.
All mailings sent by state-approved vendors and by CMS will bear the "TRAIL" logo. Communications which do not bear the "TRAIL" logo do not emanate from CMS or from a state-approved vendor. A new state Medicare Advantage website -- "Total Retirement Advantage IL"; www.cms.illinois.gov/thetrail -- will be accessible beginning on October 26, 2013.
In response to intermittent questions by audience members, Ms. Bonneville indicated that enrollees in all of the state Medicare Advantage plans will (1) continue to pay for Medicare Part B, as well as continuing to pay 1% of their annuity, increasing to 2% for SURS enrollees after July 1, 2014; (2) will no longer receive EOB's (Explanations of Benefits) from federal Medicare; and (3) will have drug coverage similar to that provided by CIGNA. Concerning the Coventry Advantra HMO she noted that only in-network doctors will be available, and maximum out-of-pocket expenses (not including prescription costs) will be $3,000 per year. For United Health Care PPO enrollees the following regulations will apply: enrollees (1) may use any doctor, whether in or out of network, who accepts Medicare patients; (2) will have a co-pay of 10%, with $1,300 maximum out-of-pocket expenses annually (not including prescription costs); (3) will be reimbursed within 10 days for any up-front payments required by doctors.
SURS annuitants will be permitted to change their Medicare Advantage plans during the annual federal Medicare open enrollment period (October 15 through the first Friday in December).
Concerning the "Dependent Verification/Audit," Ms. Bonneville offered the following clarifications: In September 2013 the Indiana audit company HMS sent out letters to employees and annuitants with dependents explaining that IRS documentation -- a copy of one's federal tax transcript, not simply a copy of the 1040 first page -- would be required to document the eligibility of one's dependents, together with a copy of the birth certificate of any child who is a dependent and a document verifying dependents' residence -- for example, documentation of a joint checking account or a utility bill not over sixty days old addressed to both annuitant and dependent. The deadline for submitting the required dependent documentation is December 6, 2013. Annuitants who have questions concerning documentation of their dependents are encouraged to call HMS to ask for advice or clarification. The status of documentation submitted to HMS can be checked via the HMS website. Following the auditing process by HMS, dependents who are determined to be non-eligible for health coverage will be terminated from coverage
The following is a sampling of the questions posed by audience members and the answers Ms. Bonneville offered following her presentation:
Q: Do the state-approved Medicare Advantage plans cover vision care?
A: Yes -- but enrollees must pay separately for dental care. You cannot buy a supplement to a state Medicare Advantage plan.
Q: How will survivor benefits be affected by the state Medicare Advantage plans?
A: When a member dies, the survivor "becomes" the member. The premium will be based on the annuity you receive as a survivor.
Q: When does my health carrier change?
A: On February 1, 2014. After that date, the current plans will no longer be available to annuitants and dependents who currently receive both Medicare Part A and Part B.
Q: If I don't have a computer, will you mail Medicare Advantage information to me?
Q: Will I still receive federal Medicare EOB's [after February 1, 2014]?
A: No. After February 1, 2014, you will no longer receive statements from federal Medicare. Your statements will come from your private vendor.
Q: If I opt out, will I be able to keep my state-provided life insurance?
VII. Thanks and Reminder of Next Chapter Meeting: President Sterling thanked her audience members and presenters for attending and announced that the next EIUAA Chapter meeting will be held at the Neal Welcome Center on January 9, 2014.
- The meeting adjourned at 11:03 a.m.
The Meeting in Pictures
Click the images below for larger versions.