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Staff forum addresses health care, leadership

Prescription plan, new chancellor focus of meeting

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

The UT System Board of Regents has invited all university staff members to attend a forum regarding the selection of a new chancellor. The announcement was made Tuesday at a Staff Advisory Council meeting.

The current chancellor, William Cunningham, has said he will step down no later than August 31. The Board will be sharing information about the selection process and is asking staff at each of the system's components to offer comments and recommendations at six forums. The forum for this area will be held at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center today in Dallas.

"I think it's a good idea for us to participate," said Louann Schulze, president of the Staff Advisory Council here.

At the meeting Tuesday, council members discussed the increase of their co-pay for prescriptions on their health care plan. Originally, staff members paid $5 for generic drugs and $10 for brand-name drugs. As of September, the co-pay on generic drugs was raised to $10 and brand-names to $20 per prescription.

Benefits Committee chair Rosalyn Randall said that many staff members have been complaining about the increase. She said several factors contributed to the increase: inflation, higher utilization of the prescription plan and higher cost of brand-name drugs. Television advertisements have contributed to the higher utilization of drugs. She told staff that many illnesses that were treated with a visit to the hospital are now being treated with medicine instead.

"We are trading off more prescription costs for lower medical costs," she said.

She said that while the prescription drug plan is still a good value, she encouraged council members to study their benefits packages and write to their congressmen about spending more money on employee benefits.

The council also discussed the status of the Holiday Outreach Project, which provides holiday gifts to needy children at Webb Elementary School in Arlington. Cathy Pritchett, Special Projects committee chair, said that about half of the gifts for the children have already been purchased. She asked council members to distribute flyers about the project to generate donations.

"We need help getting extra funds for the project," she said.

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