From the Desk of the President (October, 2016)

 

Local 34 Dental Trustee  

Douglas Graham has resigned as our Local 34 Dental Trustee. I would like to thank him for serving as our representative on the Dental Trust through Council 5. He brought a number of ideas and suggestions for improvements to investing our funds held by the trust until they are expended for services provided. His work will ensure that our fund continues to be healthy. The Dental Trustee position is an unpaid position - cannot be held by an officer or steward who receives a stipend from our local. Meetings are held at the Council 5 office with the other Dental Trustees from Locals 2822, 977, 1719, 2474 and the Council. The lost time and mileage for those meetings are covered by the Dental Trust. If you think that serving in this position would be of interest to you, please contact me at 612-348-0266. I would like to be able to have a new Trustee appointed by the November 16, 2016 Executive Board meeting.  

Budget & Finance  

The Budget & Finance Committee will present a proposed 2017 budget at the November 2, 2016 General Assembly. That budget will cover our projected expenditures for the coming year. The General Assembly is held in HSB 110, 525 Portland Ave (corner of Portland Ave & 6th St) at 5:30 PM. If you want to see where our money is spent, attend the meeting for that presentation. Your suggestions and comments are welcomed and appreciated.  

Election Day  

Election day is Tuesday, November 8, 2016. You can take up to two hours on that day to vote. This is paid time but you must let your supervise know in advance that you intend to do so in order to give her/him the ability to have adequate coverage to meet the business needs for the work that you do. According to the Payroll Contact this time is coded as "REG" on our time-card.

Screening Committees comprised of AFSCME members from around the state screened candidates who submitted a questionnaire with questions about the work that we do and the legislation that was passed or not passed over the past two years. Those committees made recommendations to the Council 5 Executive Board who then voted to endorse candidates whose values most aligned with our values. We endorsed Jan Callison for the 6th District Hennepin County Commissioner seat and Debbie Goettel for the 5th District Hennepin County Commissioner seat. If you live in those districts, please consider those endorsements. You can find a list of all the endorsed candidates in this newsletter.  

Open Enrollment  

November 7 - 21 Open Enrollment Period: November is open enrollment month for insurance. You can add or remove people from your insurance coverage for 2017 during this enrollment period so, if you were married or divorced, added a child via birth or adoption, had a dependent age out at any time of the past year, you can make those changes to your coverage. This is for any health, dental and vision coverage offered through the county. You can change your health plan or network at this time. You can also make changes to the flexible spending account and vacation/PTO cash out program if you have one or open one of you don't.  

By now you should have received a letter spelling out the cost changes for our health insurance for 2017. Note that we will have a "first dollar" deductible for singles and families. That means that you will pay the first $150.00 for single coverage and $300.00 for family/spouse coverage for any office visits (this does not include prescription drugs or preventive care visits for all plans). The letter sent to your home mailing address included a side by side comparison of the four health plans - HCMC/NorthPoint Advantage plan; Fairview/HealthEast/North Memorial Advantage plan; HealthPartners/Park Nicollet Advantage plan and the Standard plan - so that you can see what the changes are for your current plan.  

One of the most frequently asked question from members about the different Advantage plans is "What happens if I end up with a condition and my plan does not have a specialist for that condition? Do I end up paying out of network costs because I end up seeing a doctor that is not in my plan?" If you need to see a doctor outside of your Advantage plan because that network does not have anyone to treat your condition, your doctor will refer you to a provider and it is then covered as if the provider was in your plan ne-work. If you have questions, you can always call the Concierge Line at the respective plans to see how they handle your specific condition:

Advantage - HealthPartners/Park Nicollet: 952-967-7108 or 800-861-1868, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Monday - Friday

Advantage — Fairview/North Memorial/HealthEast: 612-672-2952 or 855-821-4832, available 24/7

Advantage — Hennepin County Medical Center/NorthPoint: 612-873-5700

Health plan administrator: PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 or 1-800-379-7727, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Monday - Friday  

I strongly encourage you to review your health care costs for the past several years. If, like me, you have not used the Flexible Spending Account, you will need to do some predictions about what your costs will be for next year to determine if this will benefit you. If you already have a Flexible Spending Account, you will have to decide how much more you will want to add to that account. The benefit of the Flexible Spending Account is that any money withheld from your paycheck for that account is pre-tax dollars. You also do not need to have had the amount withheld from your checks before the cost is paid from that account. So, if you have only had $100.00 withheld and go to the doctor and the cost for that visit is $95.00, that amount will be covered by the account. I already know that I will open an account for 2017.  

You can find information on this and all the changes by visiting the open enrollment web page - www.hennepin.us/employees.  

Veteran’s Day is November 11th  

Remember to honor our Veterans on November 11th - Veterans Day. If you have family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers - take the time to thank them for their service to our country. Because of them, we are free to pursue health and happiness. Because of them, we have the ability to cast our ballots in an open election. Because of them, we can wake up knowing that, flawed as our system might be, we still have the ability to voice our concerns about our government openly. Thank you to all of our members who have served. I appreciate it very much.  

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - enjoy the four day weekend. Hopefully you will be able to spend Thanksgiving with good company. Our family celebration is held at my house. With all the family members - ranging from 2 months to 86 - it can be noisy and crowded but we are making memories to share, laughs to brighten each other - food for our souls. The other food is pretty darn good, too. The table is full as everyone brings their special dish to share and care packages are sent home. I give thanks for all the experiences of the past year.

~ President Jean Diederich