Early University Retirees File Claim Over Changes to Insurance

December 27, 2007

Nearly 270 former University of Idaho employees filed a claim against the school, saying unilateral changes in their insurance benefits violate early retirement agreements they signed in 1999 and 2002.

“It was a deal,” Alan Place, a retired mechanical engineering professor and one of the 268 former employees who filed the claim against the university and the state Board of Education, told the Lewiston Tribune.

“The university administration is reneging on that deal,” he said.

If the claim is unresolved within 90 days, the former employees may file it as a lawsuit.

“The notice is being analyzed by university counsel and by the state’s Office of Risk Management,” the school said in a statement.

The university, which in recent years has suffered from financial instability, budget overruns and debt, offered early retirement packages in 1999 and 2002 to entice older employees to leave. Those filing the claim say the packages included offers to pay for medical and life insurance premiums.

This year, however, the retirees say, school officials demanded that each retiree pay $240 a year for medical insurance, for a total of $64,000 a year. In addition, the retirees say the school capped lifetime medical benefits at $1 million and eliminated life insurance coverage.

Place said one former employee with cancer has already used up her $1 million in medical coverage and fears she won’t be able to get additional treatment.

“What the university is essentially saying is, ‘Thanks for the 30 years of service, sorry you’ve got cancer, goodbye,” he said.

The retirees are seeking the restoration of benefits they say they were promised, plus reimbursement of any out-of-pocket costs they paid while their claim is pending.


Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com.

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