UC Santa Barbara Faculty Association President Nelson Lichtenstein addresses the crowd at a UCSB Health Care Town Hall Forum. Seated on stage, from left: Tricia Hiemstra, UCSB Human Resources Director; Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of UCSB Academic Senate; Dwaine Duckett, UC Vice President of Human Resources.

Peter Vandenbelt

UC Santa Barbara Faculty Association President Nelson Lichtenstein addresses the crowd at a UCSB Health Care Town Hall Forum. Seated on stage, from left: Tricia Hiemstra, UCSB Human Resources Director; Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of UCSB Academic Senate; Dwaine Duckett, UC Vice President of Human Resources.

UCSB Employees Cry Foul over Health Plan Changes

Proposal Would Reduce Treatment Options at Cottage, Sansum

Monday, October 7, 2013
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The University of California recently unveiled changes to its health insurance plans, including an axing of Anthem plans that will reduce UCSB employees’ options to get treatment at Sansum Clinic and Cottage Hospital. Hundreds of UCSB faculty and staff gathered on campus Thursday to voice their concerns about the changes, railing against being left out of the negotiations and now being asked to decide on new plans in the next several weeks before they take effect in January.

For the entire UC system, Anthem plans will no longer be available in 2014, and neither will an existing Health Net HMO plan. To replace the Anthem plans, the university system will offer UC Care, a three-tiered system, and a Blue Shield Health Savings Plan. Two of its current HMO plans — one through Kaiser and another called Health Net Blue & Gold — will remain as options.

UCSB employees are upset, though, over the first tier of UC Care, a $20 copay PPO plan which has contracted primarily with UC medical centers, which UCSB doesn’t have. And the only medical facilities in the area that have agreed to accept Tier 1 so far — negotiations with insurance representatives for Sansum and Cottage are still ongoing, UC officials say — are in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Ventura. The second tier of UC Care — also a PPO plan — will work at Sansum and Cottage, but it will charge patients for 20 percent of their services (with a $3,000 cap for individuals and $9,000 for families). Sansum and Cottage will also be available through the aforementioned Health Net Blue & Gold HMO.

Still, UCSB employees are crying foul, saying that the Office of the President should have taken Santa Barbara’s medical provider landscape into account when making its changes. On Thursday, they said they were angry about the lack of a Tier 1 plan in the area and resented having to wait and see if negotiations with Sansum and Cottage result in Tier 1 eventually becoming an option. “If that’s the best the Office of the President can do right now, you’ve failed,” said Stuart Feinstein, a professor of molecular biology for the past 27 years. “This is reneging on a responsibility. This is a completely unacceptable and unsatisfying situation.”

Dwaine Duckett, the vice president of human resources for the university system’s Office of the President (UCOP), answered questions at the meeting, and said that the university’s pending separation from Anthem — 750 UCSB employees are currently enrolled in Anthem plans, according to UCSB’s HR director, Tricia Hiemstra — is due to the company’s slated price increases, with plans scheduled to go up by $60 to $175 per month. Duckett noted repeatedly that UCSB employees will still be able to get treated at Sansum and Cottage, but acknowledged their strong frustration over losing that top-tier PPO option. “I understand when people talk about change and couch it as minor change,” he said. “Minor change is something that somebody is going through.”

Nelson Lichtenstein, a history professor and the president of the UCSB Faculty Association, chalked up the UC’s changes to pure dollars and cents. “The UCOP is looking for ways to save money — that’s what they do,” he said, adding that he resented that UCSB employees have been made into “negotiating pawns” between the university system and Sansum and Cottage. “We have to demand the university to solve it so we have the same benefits as before,” he said, adding that an electronic petition circulated to UCSB staff could make their anger loud and clear. Attendees suggested that the other UC campuses that won’t be without the Tier 1 plan subsidize the cost for UCSB employees until an agreement can be reached between the university and medical providers, a suggestion Duckett said wasn’t an option.

As of deadline, further details on possible negotiations between Cottage, Sansum, UCOP, and UCSB were unavailable.

Editor’s Note: University officials originally stated the Tier 2 cap was $5,000. This story has been corrected to reflect the actual amounts.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Welcome to Obamacare!
With all the health mandates private insurance will skyrocket - UCSB is just seeing the start of price increases.
Where does this end? If we are to have socialized medicine the Feds need to take responsibility and not shove it downstream.
Do it like other social medicine counties -
Single payer
2% tax on salaries
Basic standard of care
If you want a higher level of care - pay for it.

US health care is 4x's mor expensive than other countries with worse results.
And we still need tort reform

loneranger (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2013 at 3:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"WTF dude, Obamacare, like, applies to me?"


You voted for it!


FormerGaucho (anonymous profile)
October 7, 2013 at 5:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Every other UC location... Davis, Merced, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Riverside, Irvine, San Diego... does not have the tripling of monthly rates that Sansum/Cottage is asking for. And most of those locales have *way better* care than Sansum/Cottage provides.

Obamacare applies to all those other locales.

So the idea that this Santa Barbara problem is Obamacare is in contradiction to the facts.

Much more likely is... Sansum/Cottage now has a monopoly, and is raising there prices for more profit. No concern whatsoever for the health of there customers.

I hope people who donate time and $ to Sansum/Cottage think twice about what is going on.

snugspout (anonymous profile)
October 8, 2013 at 9:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is really shocking that the monopoly healthcare provider would indeed act like a monopolist, raising prices and cutting service quality, or both.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 1:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yup, government employees that have had it easy will now be forced into Obamacare style plans. They will have their choices, but at higher out of pocket costs of course.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 1:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

As shocking as an electricity, water, railroad, or road provider jacking prices up to what the market would bear, as was done in pre 1910 California. Where are the Hiram Johnson Republicans when we need them?

snugspout (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 5 p.m. (Suggest removal)

ahh, your troll'ish glee is apparent, Botany, what a fine fellow you are! Now, at last, you can get back at those government employees you detest. Feeling better now?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 5:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

When your false statements are challenged, you run away like the coward you are Dan. So who's the troll?

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 8:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

My private health insurance is being terminated at year end too, so I checked the state website and a similar plan will cost me 50% more under Obamacare than I currently pay.

Of course I'll shop around for a cheaper plan off the Obamacare
exchange, but I predict total failure of Obamacare. It's a total rip off unless you're "low income" and are getting subsidized.

The real question is, "Who is going to subsidize the poor by overpaying on the Obamacare exchange?" I sure as heck won't. There are much cheaper options available elsewhere.

Lars (anonymous profile)
October 9, 2013 at 8:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Lars.

You would have to hold a gun to my head to get me to register at the Obamacare website.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2013 at 10:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, now we know some numbers... from Chris Newfield...

UC brass say Sansum wants an extra $10,000/year per employee. Current cost is about $14,000/year.

So UC brass say Sansum is raising the yearly price from $14,000/year to $24,000/year.

Nothing at all to do with Obamacare... no such increases at the other 10 UC Campuses.

But rumor is... Sansum has not gotten much effort from UC Oakland brass to work the issue through. This is in contraction to the statement of UC Finance VP Peter Taylor here:

where he says "Cottage has drawn a line in the sand and said they simply won't take less than what they want to get paid."

snugspout (anonymous profile)
October 10, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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