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Updated 11:00 AM November 24, 2003



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Health care premium demonstration

(Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

"Premiums make us sick" said one sign at a Nov. 20 protest outside the Fleming Building at which members of the U-M Skilled Trades Union, the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), the All-Campus Labor Council and other groups spoke against proposed increases to the amount many employees will pay for health care premiums in 2005. "We would like the regents to have a moratorium on raising rates for our health care premiums," said Donald Pacheco, an elevator repairman and vice president of the U-M Skilled Trades Union. He said increased premiums would create a greater burden for the lowest-paid workers. David Dobbie (pictured at right), president of GEO, said the University should find a solution that doesn't shift costs to employees.

A committee of faculty and staff carefully considered the impact of the proposed premium structure on low-paid staff, including whether it would make sense to adjust the amount of premium paid according to the salary level of the employee, committee members said. The committee said it rejected a sliding scale for premiums because such a system could not be administered fairly and would cost more to implement than it would save. Provost Paul N. Courant said the committee worked to ensure affordable premiums by covering 95 percent of the cost of the two least-expensive, comprehensive health plans; and by creating an additional tier that reflects the lower cost of health care for children. The committee also recommended, and the provost concurred, that assistance for low-paid staff should come in the form of salary increases rather than additional premium subsidies.

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