Thursday, August 16, 2007

August 16 STRS Meeting Highlights & Some Very Intersting Board Votes

From John Curry, August 16, 2007
Subject: Aug. 16 STRS Meeting Highlights & Some Very Intersting Board Votes
Today's STRS meeting yielded some rather surprising results. I will try to furnish just a "bare bones" coverage since a more detailed description and discussion of today's votes will be forthcoming in the next several days. Hopefully, until then, this will give all of us something to ponder and also some results that indicate that the Board is finally listening to retirees on some issues.
1. The proposed Medicare Advantage "pilot" program that was planned to be instituted on a limited basis for retirees of some northeastern counties was defeated by a 6-3 vote:
Voting for: Chapman, Meuser, Cervantes
Voting against: Hayden, Lazeres, Leone, Puckett, Johnson, Ramser
Absent: Brooks
2. Proposed rate hike for Medicare Part B retirees passed 5-4-1 :
Voting for: Johnson, Brooks, Meuser, Puckett, Cervantes
Voting against: Leone, Lazares, Chapman, Hayden (Leone said that other options to be considered first.)
Abstain: Ramser
3. A motion to rescind and basically "put on the back burner" a plan of action concerning the divesting of holdings of stock in companies purported to be doing business with "terrorist" countries like Iran and Sudan:
Voting for: ALL 10 BOARD MEMBERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (How's this for a surprise?) The Board voted 6-2 in June (with Leone and Brooks voting no) to instruct the STRS to develop a policy/program for implementation on January 1, 2008. Leone requested the rescinding. STRS Legal Counsel reported that since Leone and Brooks voted no in June, other board members would need to propose a rescinding action. After a heated 2-hour debate, Hayden made the motion and Lazares seconded it.
4. Proposed increases in 2008 premiums for retirees utilizing STRS health insurance plans adopted 8-2:
Voting for: Johnson, Brooks, Meuser, Puckett, Cervantes, Hayden, Ramser, Chapman
Voting against: Leone and Lazares (Both stated that the Board needed to set a better example of controlling costs internally.)
5. Voting to choose Express Scripts as the 2008 STRS Pharmacy Benefits Manager adopted 9-0.
Voting for: Johnson, Meuser, Puckett, Cervantes, Leone, Lazares, Chapman, Hayden, Ramser
Voting against: None
Absent: Brooks
Note, on this vote some CORE members may be surprised. Dennis talked with me on this one and assured me that "this time 'round" we really got a great contract offer from Express Scripts AND the Board (and Express Scripts) is fully aware of the former bad experience we had with Advance PCS several years ago. He advised that Express Scripts has been made fully aware that we are ALSO aware of Express's current and ongoing lawsuit against them by the State of New York. They have been informed that we will be watching for signs of any wrongdoing and that any "funny business" on their behalf can and will result in quick termination of our contract with them. Personal comment - If Dennis and John can go along with this decision... I certainly can trust their judgment concerning this new contract with Express Scripts. John
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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