The University Record, August 13, 1997

M-CARE changes postponed; Regents ask for balanced budget in Health System

By Jane R. Elgass

At the recommendation of President Lee C. Bollinger, the M-CARE preference initiative has been put on hold to allow for further campuswide discussion of this and other compensation issues. The initiative is a plan to give preferred payment rates to employees who choose the M-CARE HMO as their health care provider.

Tabling the issue was approved at a special Regents' meeting held via conference call Aug. 6 to approve a budget for the Health System.

When presented at the July meeting, the budget included $2 million in additional income from the M-CARE preference initiative had it been implemented. To allow for discussion of the initiative, Bollinger asked that the M-CARE income item be removed from the budget. The Regents agreed and requested submission of a balanced budget for their approval that did not include projected income from the preference initiative.

Chandler Matthews, interim executive vice president and chief financial officer, said at the special meeting that the Hospital System budget will be balanced by drawing on reserves at the end of the year should the need arise.

Bollinger noted that tabling the preference initiative does not mean "backing down under opposition," nor does it mean eliminating its consideration. He added that one of the risks of not continuing the discussion would be the loss of good ideas from faculty and staff.

Some 1,500 employees responded to the Regents and administration following announcement of the proposal in July.

Regent Shirley M. McFee said it was "important to call on the entire University community to recognize the number of years the Hospitals were a profitable enterprise that shared revenues with the rest of campus. Now the reverse is the case," she said. " We need to pull together to overcome the challenges facing the Medical Center, offer support and become part of the solution."