Saturday, January 27, 2007

STRS Board Retreat scheduled for Jan. 31 - Feb. 1

From STRS, January 24, 2007:
Public Meeting Notice
A special meeting of the State Teachers Retirement Board will be held on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2007, for the purpose of a planning retreat and any other matters that may arise. The meeting will be held at the STRS Ohio offices in Columbus, Ohio.
The business agenda will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and resume at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007

Your letters to legislators are needed NOW to get Tom Hall appointed to STRS Board

From CORE, January 22, 2007
According to SB 133, the President of the Ohio Senate and the Speaker of the Ohio House make an appointment to the STRS Board. Their first appointee, Geoffrey Meyers, resigned recently. Thus, these two men will be considering another appointee very soon to take Meyer's place.
CORE is recommending that they appoint Dr. Thomas Hall, whose credentials follow. Dr. Hall would represent the STRS membership with more experience and knowledge in business practices and finance than others who have been elected to the Board. His outstanding qualifications are listed below. Dr. Hall is a contributing member to the STRS so he has a personal interest in ensuring that the pension fund remains solvent.
STRS unfunded liability is at a very dangerous level. We need Tom Hall's expertise on the STRS Board. We hope that all CORE members will write John Husted, the Speaker of the Ohio House and William Harris, the President of the Ohio Senate to encourage their support for Dr. Hall. You may e-mail them or write them or make a phone call. We encourage a personal handwritten letter as one which will receive the most attention, however. The contact information for both men is listed immediately below:

Jon Husted, Speaker of the Ohio House
77 South High Street
14th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
Phone: 614-644-6008
Fax: 614-719-3591

William Harris, President of the Ohio Senate
Ohio Statehouse, Room 201
2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: 614-466-8086
No fax # given

In addition to your communication with these two men, CORE encourages you to contact your own state senator and state representative to encourage their support of Dr. Tom Hall. They will have influence with Speaker Husted and Pres. Harris. Click here to find your state legislators

Friday, January 26, 2007

Just for fun

Hey, we've got to have a little fun once in a while. I just came across a blog called "A Teacher's First Year," by a young teacher, grades 4/5, in a rural area of Arizona. Might have to rate it "PG" (for objectionable language, but who among us hasn't been exposed to that?!!), but it's pretty entertaining. Enjoy. KBB

Molly to June: Your premium is less if you're on Medicare

Molly Janczyk to June Hughes, January 26, 2007
Subject: RE: HC Insurance
No. You pay less with Medicare.
My premium based on 30 yrs. is: $163
A Medicare premium based on 30 yrs. is: approx. $69 or less.
The less yrs you have, the more premium you have to pay.
It works the same for all:
Part A: STRS for overnight stays is the Primary and Medicare is the secondary insurer.
Part B: Medicare is the Primary and STRS is the secondary insurer.
After BOTH Medicare and then STRS pays (STRS is self insured: Med Mut. and Aetna, etc. do the managing , paperwork, etc.) you pay 20% of the remaining costs up to $1500 out of pocket max + $500 deduc. totalling $2000 yrly for your portion. STRS then kicks in with 100% over that amount.
Premiums do not go towards your costs at all.
Premiums pay for your access or for you to have the insurance.
From June Hughes, January 26, 2007
Subject: HC Insurance
Isn't it true, that I being on Medicare B am paying the same amount for Med Mutual + as all others? If this is true why since Medicare B covers so much that my Med Mutual + will have to pay ONLY if it's a huge bill. Since I haven't had anything paid by Med Mutual + in the last 5 years, my costs should not be the same as others. Can this be clarified? When there is a claim, Med Mutual + should provide a statement showing how much is going toward our (now highly outrageous) deductible.

Caremark Charged with Breach of Duty

Top News, January 26, 2007
Investors allege that Caremark executives agreed to a low-ball bid in exchange for indemnification against options-backdating charges
By Robert Berner
Investors in Caremark Rx (CMX) have filed suit against the company's top management and directors charging that they accepted an inadequate takeover bid from CVS (CVS) in large part because the deal protected them from charges of improper backdating of stock options.
The class action, brought by two pension funds in Louisiana and Pennsylvania, was filed in state court in Delaware on Jan. 5. It comes as an investment advisory group told BusinessWeek that it had confronted Caremark management with trading data that strongly indicated improper backdating by Caremark directors, in addition to management. CtW Investment Group, which advises union pension funds, contends such backdating would compromise the board's independence, including the board's decision to back management's rejection of a higher-priced offer from Express Scripts (ESRX). "The board's recent decision to endorse an inadequate merger proposal from CVS exacerbates our concern that the board is not acting in the best interests of Caremark shareholders," CtW said in a Dec. 21 letter to Caremark, which was reviewed by BusinessWeek.
Competing Suitors
Caremark came under the cloud of the growing backdating scandals last May when it disclosed it had been subpoenaed by the Justice Dept. and the Securities & Exchange Commission as part of a multicompany investigation. The same month, investors in state court in Tennessee filed suit charging executives and some board members with backdating. A Caremark spokesman said Thursday that an internal investigation by the company found no evidence of backdating by executives or the board. The Justice Dept. wouldn't comment.
Against this backdrop, Caremark and CVS announced the deal in November in which the drugstore chain would acquire the pharmacy benefit manager in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at about $21 billion, a price that was below the company's market capitalization the month before. Rival benefits manager Express Scripts followed with a $26 billion cash and stock offer, but Caremark rejected the competing bid on a number of grounds, including that such a deal between two rivals might not win approval from antitrust regulators. Though CVS sweetened its offer in response, it still remains below Express Script's. Caremark shareholders will vote on the deal Feb. 20.
The Delaware class action alleges that indemnification language in the CVS merger agreement is so broadly worded that none of Caremark's executives or directors would be personally liable for any potential legal repercussions from improper backdating, should it be uncovered. In fact, says Gerald Silk, a New York lawyer representing investors in the case, CVS would take on the liability.
Not without Indemnity
The suit charges that Caremark's top executives and the board were willing to sell the company at no premium in part to get the broad indemnity that would cover any potential backdating transgressions. "Conversely," Silk adds, "CVS was willing to give such broad indemnity because it believed it was purchasing the company at such a bargain price."
A Caremark spokesman declined to respond directly to Silk's accusation. The spokesman said such indemnification clauses are customary for Delaware incorporated companies and the new clause was just a continuation of "existing indemnification provisions applicable to Caremark directors and officers." He declined to elaborate. John Amorosi, a New York lawyer representing CVS, says the similar indemnification language is included in most merger agreements and that backdating wasn't even considered when the "clause was negotiated."
A CVS spokeswoman says the company doesn't believe that Caremark has a backdating problem. She added that CVS has "complete confidence in its management and board."
Fortunate Patterns
CtW in its Dec. 21 letter addressed to one director who sat on the audit committee, said that in addition to executives, its analysis of option-granting patterns at Caremark indicates a "high probability" that a majority of Caremark's nonexecutive directors received backdated stock options as compensation between at least 1997 and 2001. Backdating occurs when an option's exercise price, instead of being set on the grant date, is backdated to a point when the stock price was lower. That way the option is "in the money" the day it is actually granted. In trying to determine backdating, analysts look for patterns of stock prices falling in the days before the grant and rising afterwards, indicating the grant date occurred during a trough, a statistical improbability if such timing is common.
On Mar. 8, 2000, for example, six of Caremark's nonexecutive directors received options grants of 25,000 shares apiece, says Richard Clayton, head of research at CtW. The shares posted a 58% percent price appreciation over the next 30 days. Only on eight other days in 2000 did a Caremark stock show a larger 30-day gain, Clayton says, citing the improbability that directors could be that lucky in picking that date.
CtW's letter to the Caremark audit director includes two tables showing similar trading patterns of options granted to the top four executives and six directors. Michael Garland, a spokesman for CtW, said if directors and executives were both receiving the benefit of backdated options as the analysis suggests, it is questionable whether the directors could exercise independent judgment in assessing the CVS acquisition offer.
In a letter Caremark wrote back to CtW on Dec. 27, Caremark said, "we believe our compensation practices, including those relating to the granting of stock options, are conducted and disclosed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations." It continued, "We take very seriously our disclosure obligations under applicable securities laws and regulations, and we devote significant time, attention, and resources to complying with those obligations." Caremark's spokesman declined to elaborate.
Berner is a correspondent for BusinessWeek in Chicago.

RH Jones to Ann Hanning: Scabs next?

From RH Jones, January 26, 2007
Subject: Re: The ORTA Quarterly Vol. 60, No.1 Winter 2007- suggestions
Thanks for responding. The explanation of the CPE would be great in the Spring Quarterly. Your NOTE about Sen. Fedor being an opponent of charter schools was a great addition. But, I think that we need to always mention in our articles that ORTA is a charter school opponent, as well. And that we think public tax dollars going into the greedy hands of charter school profit-oriented entrepreneurs is not right.

Teaching children is not the same as sending tax dollars to entrepreneurs to build highways and such. Children are just too precious to be short-changed by those who think private enterprise is the answer to educating children. Contrary to what some legislators have been saying, recent research concerning failed public schools is nonsense. The public controls them, entrepreneurs control charter schools. Our public schools have served America greatly for over 200 successful years. We want to be sure that continue for even another 200 years, and beyond.

Scab teachers who work in these charter schools are not welcomed by me into membership in the ORTA. If this is happening, or will happen, the next thing would be the ORTA supporting such scabs to sit on the STRS board! If they work for charter schools, they most certainly are of agreement in that failed and flawed philosophy. ORTA for public school retirees ONLY! That is the way the membership will grow. (Note: I was told by an ORTA representative that ORTA is letting them in. I don't know if that is factual or not. If so, it should end now.)

Bob Jones, Life Member, ORTA

Ann Hanning to RH Jones, a clarification: CPE supports public education, not charter schools

From Ann Hanning, January 26, 2007
Subject: RE: The ORTA Quarterly Vol. 60, No.1 Winter 2007- suggestions
Clarification - CPE is the Coalition for Public Education. Tom Mooney was the former chair. Barbara Shaner (OASBO) was elected chair in January, 2007.
CPE filed the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of charter schools. In fall, 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that charter/community schools are constitutional. The CPE met on November 28 and decided to withdraw other pending issues in the lawsuit. This was announced at a news conference on Dec. 5, 2006. At that same news conference, CPE announced its support of HB 213 (Rep Oelslager, R - Canton) and SB 129 (Sen Kirk Schuring, R - Canton). These companion bills required more academic and fiscal accountability of charter schools and their operators/sponsors.
CPE supports public education.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

RH Jones: Some suggestions for ORTA

From RH Jones, January 25, 2007
Subject: The ORTA Quarterly Vol. 60, No.1 Winter 2007- suggestions

To my ORTA:

I thank both ORTA President, Dr. Don Bright, & ORTA's Exec. Dir., Ann Hanning, for attending the 01/8/07 STRS board meeting. As a concerned Life Member, I offered some suggestions for the Quarterly to become more focused on reporting retiree economic problems rather than using so much valuable & expensive space for social salutes. Would not it be better to salute those who have made positive change in the way our STRS operates.

The numerous so called achievements of 4-term Gov. Rhodes(R) is especially misleading. During Gov. Rhodes tenure in the statehouse school funding was pitiful. He funded vocational education well, and I applaud that, but he short changed the rest of public education until the public finally "wised up" and voted him out-of-office. As the articles' writer, Dr. B. R. Shoemaker, reported that Gov. Rhodes was 'Ohio's Greatest Governor'. He most certainly was not. I was active in my AEA, NEOEA, & OEA/OFT at that time and can tell you life was difficult for educators under his administration. We union members fought him hard for proper state funding. School children were not one of his priorities.

Ann Hannings article mentioned that ORTA is a member of CPE but failed to mention that that group supports charter schools. The budget this year is hurting retired public school educators. Because of charter schools, less teachers are paying into STRS at a time when that lost revenue is sorely needed. And, of course, charter school teachers earn less. Most are desperate for jobs and are not as fully educated as public school educators either. The legislators who are supporting the extinction of our public schools and it's STRS need to be identified and their names published in the Quarterly! Most are from rural areas, by the way. With 32,000 ORTA members, as reported to me by Dr. Bright, we have the gray power to rid the state of them by our collective votes.

And Jeff Chapman's article (page 4) failed to mention how or what he was doing to move our retirement system ahead. Most was simply reporting what we can read in the STRS publications. He has been a disappointment. I expected more of one backed by our

All you folks at ORTA need to provide a surge in 2007 to protect and improve our retirement system; and to provide some strong leadership for your members. Being timid will get us nowhere. Even Jesus threw out the money changers. Let us work hard to identify and continue to vote out politicians who do not want to fund public schools and their children. The April 24 Columbus gathering will be our chance.

RHJones, ORTA for life -- without STRS, there is no life for us. By the way, PROUD to be a CORE member.

RH Jones re: his speech to STRS Board January 18, 2007; how pickups are HURTING, not helping us

From RH Jones, January 25, 2007
Subject: R. H. Jones' speech at STRS Bd 01/18/07
To all:
This speech is regarding: In lieu of pay raises, some school employers are approving the paying for a percentage of the employee's contribution into our STRS.
Surging forward, my thanks to our STRS Executive Director, Damon Asbury, for his prompt reply to my inquiry into this matter: however, after reading his letter, additional observations came to mind: As with Ex-President Clinton's question as to the definition of the word "is", what is the definition of a pay raise? To me, awarding money in the form of "picking-up" part of the present 10% portion of the employee STRS contribution is in fact a pay raise. Had the employer not paid the STRS, the employee would have paid the STRS at that time as part of his/her base pay. Sounds simple, yes? But, let me try to explain this further: We all know that the IRS allows the educator to pay no income tax on the money he/she draws out of the STRS, until all the employees contributions into the STRS is used up. Then the retired educator pays taxes on all retirement checks from there on. However, the employer, "picking up" an employee's contribution percentage is not employee STRS money; fittingly, it is technically employer money and should, instead, go into increased base pay in a timely fashion with any taxes paid "up front." Employee compensation should always be done in this straightforward manner.
It is right that the employer pays the STRS 14%, and the employee pays 10%. Any employer/employee contribution above this combined 24% in the base is both fine and good for the system. Change has been long overdue in coming. Rightly, a employer/employee 2.5% combined together to a 5% increase is currently what we are asking of the legislature. Nothing should put this increased contribution in jeopardy.
Additionally, and most importantly, common sense tells me that the employee "pick-up" is not cost neutral for the STRS. The key point is: By not paying this "pick-up", into the many regular consecutive yearly income gains in employee base salary increases, the STRS obviously loses a chance to grow investment income. Clearly, then, without the compounding in a "pick-up" award would therefore, yield the STRS less. And, the STRS collateral growth would be hurt even more if the "pick-up" percentage awarded to the employee is only in the final 3-year average years. When it comes at the expense of the long term health of the system, is not our STRS studying ways to grow the base funding by stopping members from inflating the final 3-yr. average? If not, the STRS should be.
And, finally, even though all professional employees may currently be eligible for the so called "pick-up," it is never right at any given time in a school district to award it to just one, or a few, if it is not given to all educators. After all, we STRS members are all equal after retirement. As one of my teaching assignments was the teaching of mathematics, I cannot see how "pick-ups" adds up. It just does not compute. By whom, where, and how did it ever get started in the first place? Whatever, for the common good of all Buckeyes, we need an end to "pick-ups" now. (END)
The above document takes 5-minutes to read. I then compacted it to 3-minutes so the board heard a simplified version. This is a complicated issue to explain. After my speech Dr. Asbury's assistant explained that "pick-ups" are "cost neutral" for our STRS. I respectfully disagree. He went on to say that there are 72-school districts that have used "pick-ups;" most are for superintendents. Some colleges use it as well. And that this has been going on for 25-years.
RHJones, SummitCRTA legislative CMTE member & CORE

Report on John Lazares, January 25, 2007

Molly Janczyk to Ryan Holderman, January 25, 2007
Question about John Lazares

Dear Ryan and All:
I spoke with Trish on her way home from hospital - about 30 min. or so from home. John did get up with the walker pushing with his arms to rise and is more alert today. He may come home Sat. and it is not planned that he will have to go to a rehab facility. They are only getting him up enough now so he is able to get up at home as needed but that's about all he will do for now. It is a waiting period to see if the softness in his bone is from infection or rejection of the first implant. So waiting for cultures to grow. Trish's concern is if it is rejection. One man had to come back 3 times for different replacements with different materials.

Time is not set and depends on the results and then the strengthening of his bone to secure the replacement. After the replacement, personnel will come to his home, so he will not have to be in a facility. A rehab site is close to home.

Trish is great and like John, very gracious and caring. I will ck with her every few days until we know more.

Regards, Molly J.
From Ryan Holderman, January 25, 2007
Subject: Question about John L.

Dear Molly:
Do you have any idea how long John L. will be hospitalized? Will he have to have special care during the period that he is waiting for the infection in the bones to subside and before they can re-implant the knee? Can they do that at home or will he have to be in a rehab facility?

It is so distressing that John has to go through such trauma. We join all those around the State who are praying him.

Thanks for keeping everyone apprised of his progress.
Sincerely, Ryan

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Update on John Lazares' knee surgery

From Molly Janczyk, January 24, 2007
Subject: John Lazares: Update

[Note: John Lazares underwent knee replacement surgery in August 2005, but has suffered complications and much pain ever since. He had surgery again this week (1/22/07) to correct the problem, but, regrettably, is not out of the woods yet. He will be laid up for 3-4 months; hopefully he will recover this time and be free from the excruciating pain he has long endured. We wish him all the best. KBB]

I am sorry to report John is not having an easy time of it. When they removed his last knee replacement, it came out easy due to softened bone. The bone was softened because of a possible infection and/ or other causes they are investigating. One cause may be John's system rejected the material of the previous replacement. They were not surprised John was in so much pain due to the condition he is in. They also found much fluid surrounding his knee adding to the pressure.

Dr.'s biopsied cultures some of which take up to a possible 10 days to grow to determine if infection is present. Therefore, they cannot replace the knee yet. Dr.s placed antibiotic plates into the knee cavity meanwhile to ward off and /or treat any new or existing infection.

John is presently very out of it sleeping (after 1 and 1/2 yrs of dealing with this pain. I know from experience with my husband that it takes everything out of you to get thru your day and John has had no good days since his surgery and had constand pain prior to it). He does not want to be roused according to his wife, Trish, who is worried about no intake of food or water. He is on IV's though for all those things. She did find his phone off the hook in his room and he had no recollection regarding it.

The Dr.'s indicated they have to get John's bone in healthy condition before they can replace his knee and this could take up to 6 wks alone. Then, he would have recovery and rehab following. The first step is to wait on the cultures to determine if and what infection still exists.

I told Trish to give John our thoughts and love and to let him know we are monitoring him. He was so good to us when my husband was at the Cleveland Clinic 2 yrs in a row. The first person calling while my husband was still in surgery was John Lazares and kept calling thru the whole ordeal and for weeks after. My husband, John J. , and he have developed a 'phone friendly relationship' understanding the world of pain.

Trish gave me her cell phone number and she will keep me updated which I will immediately forward. I spoke with her this am but my computer has been down and we had to call for assistance.

John is in for more discomfort before he heals and I know we are all saddened to hear it is not an immediate success beginning rehab now on th road to recovery.

Keep him close and he will let me know when he can takes calls which I will pass on to you.
I spoke with Trish again to get contact info. Also, as typical of both of them, they do not want anyone concerned. She said to say he is doing ok - just resting. I said it's just that everyone was hoping this would be on target this time without delay or setbacks to his recovery.
They do intend evidently to get him up with the spacer in his knee using a walker so he can use the restroom. But, they decided not today as he is too tired.

John Lazares
.....Mercy Hospital, #3329
.....3000 Mack Rd.
.....Fairfield OH 45014
.....John Lazares
.....8133 Devonshire Pl.
.....Maineville, OH 45039
Molly has provided the name of a florist in Fairfield, where John is hospitalized:
Flowerama is close to Mercy and is: 513-939-0070

Molly, Duane, June: Medical information, discussion

Molly Janczyk to June Hughes, January 24, 2007
Subject: Know a good Dr. in Hamilton Co.?
The fact that you had polyps should be sufficient alone. I'll ask if anyone knows a good compassionate Dr. in your area. I find that DO's are more holistic in their approach looking for causes and solutions vs simply medicating symptoms. DO's are MD's with further training.
Also, ask your friends and contacts with what you like in a Dr. Too many are hands off with an air. We all want one we can speak with re: concerns. I take ques. written down so I remember everything. If someone doesn't have time, I , too, go somewhere else. I have found very caring Dr.'s as a result.
I hope the same for you.
June Hughes to Molly Janczyk, January 24, 2007
Subject: Re: Medical Update!
Thanks, I did have polyps removed waaaaaaay back which were not cancerous. So this present internist Dr is requesting I have another since it's way over time for such. Also I would say age would be part of my argument for one. I'm looking for another Dr which I'm not completely pleased with. Any suggestions to find one who is one who will work with patients instead of ignoring them or try to make one sided (hers) decisions? I do appreciate the information which helps me make a better decision.
On Jan 24, 2007, at 12:16 AM, molly janczyk wrote:
I believe a colonoscopy now is approved just by age as well. Most have some symptom anyway which can be used.
Just get a pre cert and approved facility and Dr. within network
Duane Tron to Molly Janczyk, January 23, 2007
Subject: Re: Medical Update!
Tell June that it has been about five years since I had my last colonoscopy. I was having some problems and my doctor was concerned so he requested a precert to have me tested to make sure I wasn't experiencing a new cancer. They approved the procedure upon his recommendation/request. He simply listed my symptoms, my family history, and the fact that I had prior colon/rectal surgery in 1993. June just needs to have her doctor certify that he/she has concerns based symptoms she is experiencing.
Duane Tron to Molly, January 23, 2007
Subject: Re: Medical Update!
All she has to do is have her doctor file a precert that he feels the procedure is necessary due to health concerns and list the reasons why. They will normally accept the precert based on a doctor's recommendation. I was having a number of issues/problems and my doctor became concerned and sent me for testing. The ten year time frame is only a recommendation and not written in stone. My doctor set my schedule at every five years and if, and when, I am experiencing new health concerns/symptoms that could be a possible cancer. She can call and get an opinion and I recommend she speaks with her doctor and asks him/her first. If he/she is in the network they will know what they can and can't do and what is covered and what isn't. My best advice!
From Molly Janczyk, January 23, 2007
Subject: Re: Medical Update!
I am sure it is. After 50, one colonoscopy every 10 yrs. is covered under most plans. A diagnosis is easy if needed by the Dr. for insurance to pay as everyone has some symptom which can be listed. Have your Dr. precert the procedure with your insurance provider. I had one due to age.
There are differences between Medicare and Medicare with state employees.
YES! YOU must pre cert and with our insurance and this is not always the case as Medicare is the most widely used and Dr.s know what is covered and most automatically precert anyway. Dr.s who agree to Medicare know the drill so to speak.
But, our coverage is not as widely used so ALWAYS HAVE YOUR DR. PRECERT AND/OR YOU CALL YOUR INSURANCE PROVIDER TOO SO NO SURPRISES! For ex., we were told John's Dr. is Med. Mut. and most are. They have our card and yet one Dr. in the office is not in network with Med Mut +. It is their error and we are not paying as they have a copy of the card and didn't check.
1. Be sure your Dr. precertifies any procedure
2. Be sure all your Dr.s and overnight stays in any medical facility-hospital and nursing/convalescent care is IN NETWORK!
Those are the 2 differences. You can go to any facility with Medicare only.
STRS is your Part A if you don't qualify for Part A yourself or through a spouse. Part A pays for any overnight stay in hospitals and facilities. ALWAYS BE SURE TO CK THAT THIS FACILITY OR HOSPITAL IS IN NETWORK by calling your insurance provider. Otherwise you will have to pay addt'l out of network deduc. and out of pockets in excess of your in network and deduc. for the year.
Medicare is your Part B.
When you receive bills from hospitals and Dr.s etc., DO NOT PAY them until they go thru Medicare and then thru your insurance provider who will tell you the patient responsibility and you NEVER pay more than that. If anyone tries to bill you more , contact your insurance provider and they will contact the medical source to stop billing you as a contracted member of your provider for insurance.
I can tell you this took much time with my mother's hospital because they are so used to just billing Medicare. They had to rebill 3 times getting it straight that OPERS was my mother's primary for Part A. You do not have to worry about time. Medicare told me 2 yrs. are allowed to process. Medicare will send you their pays and then they go to your provider (Med Mut or Aetna, etc.) and then to you with your patient responsibility which should be low after Medicare and Med Mut, etc have paid. Med Mut or Aetna, etc will pay the remaining 80% and you pay 20% until your out of pockets are reached and then you pay 0. My mom's bills were very low -- a few dollars and up to $70 which was 3 combined visits totaled together for a specialist while in hospital.
Unless you go out of your network, you should never owe more than your yearly deduc. for each person and the out of pocket listed for each person listed by Med. Mut or Aetna or your provider. We have $500 deduc ea. + $1500 each to total $2000 per. My husband always meets this due to his health problems and for the remainder of the year , STRS pays 100% of his costs.
If you chose out of network, a new deduc. of $1000 starts for them and new out of pockets of $3000 each person.
1. Always precertify any procedure
2. Always be sure all medical providers, facilities ARE IN YOUR NETWORK! Do not listen to anyone else as their coverage may differ. My mother wanted to go to a facility next to her residence and could not. We found their 'sister' facility and she was pleased with it.

**Call Med. Mut. or Aetna or whomever you have coverage with and give the name of the procedure and / or the facility and they will tell you and give you a list of facilities you can use.
Part A: Overnight stays: STRS is our Primary and Medicare is our Secondary so both pay first Part B: Dr., tests: Med Mut. or Aetna, etc. is the Primary and STRS is secondary insurer
From: June Hughes, January 23, 2007
Subject: Re: Medical Update!
So Molly was his procedure covered by our insurance? I've been trying to find a definitive answer so I can go forward with my own test. I've read that the Dr is covered by Med B but then there has to be prior insurance permission to have polyps removed. ?? (I dread this test)

Senator Judith Freedman and GPO reform: Give teachers 'another bite of the apple'

From, January 24, 2007
Ridgefield Press

SCHOOLS: Senator backs congressman on teacher Social Security

State Senator Judith G. Freedman (R-26) has written to U.S. Congressman Christopher Shays to endorse proposed federal legislation he is co-sponsoring that, if passed, would allow teachers to collect all of the Social Security benefits they earn while working at non-teaching jobs.

“Connecticut is among a handful of states that harm teachers by financially penalizing them for working at non-teaching jobs,” said Senator Freedman.

“Connecticut teachers contribute to the teacher’s pension system and upon retirement collect those benefits. However, if at any point they work at other jobs and pay into the Social Security system, under current Federal law they will not be able to receive their full Social Security benefits. Additionally, these teachers are unable to collect any of the social security benefits of a deceased spouse. The system is wrong and the decisions that created the system go back almost 50 years.”

“This is a terrible disincentive to those who decide that teaching would be a rewarding second career. What does this say to a young mother who wants to take a few years off from teaching to raise children? It removes the very protections that Social Security is designed to afford. What does this say to young people who are choosing their careers? This law has a negative impact on the future pool of teachers in our state,” she added.

Senator Freedman said she is hopeful that Congress will pass the recently reintroduced Social Security Fairness Act as it currently has 100 co-sponsors and is expected to pick up more.

“Congressman Shay’s backing on this legislation, recognizes the importance of this for Connecticut teachers and the need to give them the opportunity to participate in Social Security. After working as a teacher in two other states where I paid into both systems, I was appalled to learn that as a teacher in Connecticut, if I were to collect to my pension, I could not collect my Social security benefits. It is definitely time for Washington to give Connecticut teachers another bite at the apple, “said Senator Freedman.

Toledo Blade slams educators

Article published January 23, 2007
Toledo Blade
Different circus, same clowns
A PROPOSED ballot issue on school funding - a constitutional amendment intended to bypass the Ohio General Assembly - is just one more devious attempt to direct a never-ending stream of taxpayer dollars straight into the pockets of the usual suspects.
By usual suspects, we mean the militant teachers' unions, school administrators, and school boards, all of which are behind a constitutional amendment with the deceptively bland title "Getting It Right for Ohio's Future."
The proposal also marks the reappearance of a group called Coalition for Equity & Adequacy in Education, which wasted untold amounts of public money in suing the state over school funding for more than a decade, beginning in the early 1990s.
Ohioans should be very wary about the potential to reincarnate anything like the coalition's DeRolph case. It will only cost them more money.
The proposed amendment - its backers are seeking 400,000 signatures to place it on the statewide ballot next November - would declare a "high-quality" public education "a fundamental right" of every child, which is at least more direct than the constitution's current mandate for a "thorough and efficient" school system.
Unfortunately, deciding precisely what constitutes a "high quality" education would be left not to lawmakers but to a commission appointed by the governor and legislature.
The panel would report its findings to the Ohio Board of Education, which would determine the cost each year, and the legislature then would have to determine a tax structure to pay for it.
The main draw of the amendment, according to its backers, is that the share of school funding would be gradually shifted from local property taxes to the state, but it wouldn't end local levies and it wouldn't guarantee property tax rollbacks.
While we understand that tax levies are the form of taxation probably most disliked by Ohioans, the end result of this Byzantine process almost certainly would be higher cost to the public and less local control over schools. Reduce the property tax and the revenue will just have to be located elsewhere by jacking up other taxes.
What's wrong with asking parents to pay a greater share of the cost of educating their children?
We absolutely agree with David Hansen, president of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a conservative Columbus think tank, that throwing more money at public education isn't the answer. As he points out, public schools in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati rank at the top nationally in teacher pay, yet all three districts perform poorly.
Public school teaching has become one of the most lucrative middle-class professions. And while exceptional teachers are worth their pay, mediocre educators protected by their unions are not.
Unfortunately we don't sense that Governor Strickland has a plan of his own, other than to coddle the teachers' unions. No matter how much is spent on the education of, say, an inner city child in Cleveland, his or her prospects are gloomy without a solid and wholesome environment at home.
"Getting it Right" has it all wrong.

STRS Board retreat Jan. 31 - Feb. 1, 2007

From STRS, 01/24/07
A special meeting of the State Teachers Retirement Board will be held on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 2007, for the purpose of a planning retreat and any other matters that may arise. The meeting will be held at the STRS Ohio offices in Columbus, Ohio.
The business agenda will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and resume at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tom Curtis: A thank you to RH Jones and Dr. K. Fluke

Tom Curtis to RH Jones, January 20, 2007
Subject: 012007 Curtis, Re: STRS Board Chair "hammers" Dr. Fluke out-of-order
Excellent letter, Bob!
Thank you and Kay for driving down to Columbus this week. Your presence was greatly appreciated by all.
It was good to see both of you once again and each of you gave strong presentations to the board. Unfortunately, many on the board just don't get it. The few of us that come down from our area or any area above us have a long way to travel and it pretty much takes your entire day to do so. This is also true for those that drive from south of Columbus. To spend that much time and energy to do so, should certainly be worthy of more time then 3 MINUTES to speak to the people that supposedly represent us! This is especially true, as many of the board members do not answer emails, so just how are we to get their attention?
I personally thank you and Dr. Fluke for your dedication to STRS retirees and their families. Those of us in CORE are very fortunate to have 2 educators of your quality continue to be involved in such an honorable mission. We all feel obligated to provide some oversight to help to keep a retirement system that was put in place for teachers, to stay in place for those coming behind us.
We have gained a lot in these past 4 years at the STRS, but there is so much more to be gained. We have opened doors, continued our mission, organized and have begun to be looked at as a serious organization.
Thank you again,
Tom Curtis

New STRS Board member Craig Brooks seated at January Board meeting

Welcome, Mr. Brooks! We're glad to have you on board and look forward to reaping the benefits of your background and expertise. Happy sailing!
Contact information:
...Craig C. Brooks

Minutes of January 18, 2007 CORE meeting

From Glenna Barr, January 22, 2007
Subject: approved CORE Jan. minutes
The January l8,2007 meeting of CORE at the STRS Building was held in the room behind the Sublett Room next to the cafeteria. Officers present: Dave Parshall, president; Mary Ellen Angelletti, vice president; CJ Myers, treasurer; Glenna Barr, secretary. Trustees present: Betty Bell, Lloyd Knudsen, substituting for Chuck Chapman, Nancy Boomhower, Ryan Holderman, substituting for Nancy Hamant, and Chuck Angeletti.
Dave Parshall called the meeting to order and called for the approval of the minutes of the December, 2006 meeting. Mary Ellen Angeletti made a motion to accept the minutes and Betty Bell seconded the motion and all approved. CJ Myers gave the treasurer's report and is receiving dues for the year.
(1) Contacts and Regional Reps Committee was given by Molly Janczyk. All regions reps are accounted for. She noted that Barb Garwood of Dist.3 has had surgery and all the CORE members wish her a quick recovery.
This committee report was given by Ryan Holderman. A discussion on Step 2 to change Article IX in the Constitution as to whom will receive any CORE monies if or when CORE should be dissolved. STRS has criteria set up as to whom will receive the monies. A vote on this change will take place at the February CORE meeting.
(1) The Constitution change was discussed as stated above in the committee report
(2) Dave Parshall discussed the ORTA Spring Rally, April 24th, cost of $20.00 per person. Mary Ellen Angelletti wanted to encourage ORTA members to attend.
The CORE Board has approved to send out a CORE ALERT for nomination of Dr. Thomas Hall for the active teacher position on the STRS board in the next board election. All CORE members are urged to write to their legislators about school funding and the active teacher contribution legislation. Our investment people are going to have to work very hard to have good investment returns if our projected Health Care Stabilization Fund is to run out by 2012.
(3) Governor Strickland's election was discussed and his friendly attitude toward education.
(4) A discussion was held on an Internet broadcast of STRS Board Meetings. Gary Allen, OEA president, was introduced and a healthy discussion was held by Mr. Allen and CORE members. He stated education health care issues were as important to OEA; as they are to retirees. He discussed a decade of school underfunding. He stated teacher salaries are not increasing [enough] to keep up with the cost of HC and this affects the retirement system. OEA is backing legislation for school funding. He stated school funding should not be put on the local taxes. Seniors cannot always have new taxes put on them with all the other increased expenses they have but this burden for school funding should be shifted back to the state. Go to the OEA website ( for their editorial on this subject and their other concerns for new educational graduates and no jobs; they are going out of state, thus STRS will suffer again due to the lack of this income.
A question and answer period was held between Gary Allen and CORE members as to STRS backed board members lacking background training before becoming STRS board members. He stated that they have started or are to start a training program for this purpose but cannot after they are elected due to the ethics issue. He stated legislators are not friendly to OEA. We need an organized effort to identify people against our goals.
OEA is against alternative options for STRS monies and support the active teacher contribution increase because retirement without health care is no retirement. We will have to influence legislators rather than the school boards to get this bill passed. One member stated if we work on school funding symptoms than the school boards could afford more contribution. All educational groups should work together, as we thought we would always have a good, reliable retirement. CORE would appreciate it if OEA were to caution OEA board members not to rubber stamp proposals but to question proposals and work together and be more sympathetic toward the retirees' plight.
ORTA guest Ann Hanning, ORTA State Executive Director, gave the Health Care Coalition update on the contribution bill. HCA members will attend a school boards meeting to lay out savings for the school boards. ORTA is involved in school funding reform. They are circulating petitions to the chapters and having ORTA people speaking at the chapter meetings regarding these issues.. She discussed the Social Security Repeal bills, HB 82 and SB 206. You can go to ORTA (, OEA (, and NEA ( websites to find out more about this subject.
OEA and ORTA have legislative programs on April 24th. ORTA's program will be held in the Statehouse Atrium and OEA's program will be in the Statehouse Map Room. These activities show that many organizations are working for school funding and retirement concerns.
Lou DiOrio, ORTA's Ocher Higher Education Chairman, stated higher education has the same issues. He appreciates CORE's having him at their meetings and allowing him to speak. Gary Allen reassured Mr. DiOrio that OEA doesn't want higher education penalized due to the issues of school funding. Also attending was Don Bright, ORTA State President. Dave Parshall thanked Gary Allen, ORTA officers, and members for attending the meeting. He wished John Lazarus the best for his upcoming surgery. The meeting was adjourned with Liz Ebbing, of Allen County, making the motion and Molly Janczyk seconding the motion. The meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be February l5, 2007.
Submitted by Glenna Barr, Secretary

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Tom Curtis' speech to STRS Board December 14, 2006 and January 18, 2007

[This speech was delivered in two parts since Tom was unable to deliver it all within the required three minute time limit and was not permitted to speak longer than the allotted time.]
(Introductory remarks)
The STRS management team has often stated its desire to hire the very best employees it can find.
I guess that kind of thinking would justify the recent STRS expenditure of $315,000 to hire an outside firm to find 3 real estate investors for a department that represents only about 8% of our holdings. My point is this: doesn’t everyone desire to hire the very best employee, or elect the most-qualified candidate? Well, not exactly!
I have been highly involved in the past three STRS elections. In my opinion, the STRS management team, the leadership of both teachers unions, the OEA & the OFT, and the state superintendent appear to have little concern about the necessary qualifications of the board members elected or appointed to represent them on this board.
Qualifications needed by a board member to even nominally understand what the STRS management is presenting to them on a monthly basis seems to be totally overlooked here. The pervasive attitude of many of our past and present board members is to allow the STRS management make most of the decisions. Why, because you are often not qualified to weigh in on those decisions, but are too proud to admit it. So you simply vote “yes” on most management requests. Such lack of concern on your part makes no sense. This is the tail wagging the dog, and you are allowing it to happen. Some of you were elected to this board due to nothing but politics. That does not and is not getting the job done here, or at the state level.
The voters have spoken in this state. Where will our beloved watchdogs, Jim Petro and Betty Montgomery, be come 2007? Finally they will both be out on the street where they belong.
There are two individuals sitting on this board who had the courage, knowledge and clout to bring many of the STRS spending abuses to light, when very few teachers had that ability. The teachers unions and other teacher representative groups sat by and did little, if anything, to bring these abuses to light. CORE was the only group to support the efforts of these two.
Dr. Leone and John Lazares possess a far greater knowledge and experience base from having been superintendents for many years and dealing in the financial operation of schools, letting of contracts, the legal ramifications of such and managing people than most of the rest of you combined. They have attempted to communicate to you the significance of just what you are voting for each month, but due to the politics and sheer ignorance involved here, some of you are unwilling to listen to their recommendations. This is truly alarming, because the future of this retirement system is very fragile in that it probably will not be able to meet the pensions it is obligated for in the not-too-distant future.
However, you are very willing to listen to the recommendations of the executive director, when he should be listening to yours. All of the very same senior staff members who have managed this retirement system foolishly and misspent our funds are still HERE, with the exception of Herb Dyer. Our prior board awarded him more than half a million dollars to step down. This very same management team has paid out billions of dollars to outside firms simply to acquire reports that confirm and agree to the gross misspending and neglect of our funds. God, please help us all!
Madame Chair, you embarrassed not only yourself, but educators as a whole with your insulting remarks in the newspaper about Dr. Leone. You were totally out of line with every comment you made in your statement to that reporter. To my knowledge, you also have yet to offer any kind of apology to Dr. Leone. I believe you owe him this, and I will continue to ask for one until you issue such, or step down from this board.
Board members, many of your votes make absolutely no sense to me, considering the gross misspending of teachers’ funds that the STRS management has perpetrated in the past and to this very day.
The continued gross misspending becomes even more absurd, because it is my understanding that our true unfunded liability is at “INFINITY,” not at 47 years as presented last month by Ms. Nichol, the representative from the expensive outside accounting and consulting firm.
This point was brought to light by Dr. Leone’s questions and confirmed by Ms. Nichol, to my understanding. It would appear to me that few, if any of you other board members seem to have even been aware of this. The annual increase of teacher salaries is nowhere close to 4.5%, which is the figure used to determine the 47-year unfunded liability. Each one of you now knows this and should be grappling with the need to tighten the expenditures of this management team. Or are you simply going to ignore this dire situation and continue to let Damon Asbury mislead you?
From what I read in the board minutes, this board continues, by a majority vote, to rubber stamp most of Damon Asbury’s spending requests. Further, you continue to allow this type of misleading information to go out in the STRS Newsletter and the membership has no other choice then to think all is well, when it absolutely is not. Please wake up and start weighing your decisions based on information from those on this Board who can be trusted, not the STRS management team. It’s time for the dog to start wagging the tail, not the other way around. Thank you.

[Some statistics: To deliver this speech in its entirety, it required approximately eight hours of driving time on Tom's part; approximate mileage of 554.4 miles and approximately $55.42 (maybe more) for gas, paid out-of-pocket. KBB]

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tom Curtis to RH Jones: Retirees driving that far on their own nickel deserve more than three minutes

Tom Curtis to RH Jones, January 20, 2007
Subject: 012007 Curtis, Re: STRS Board Chair "hammers" Dr. Fluke out-of-order
Excellent letter, Bob!
Thank you and Kay for driving down to Columbus this week. Your presence was greatly appreciated by all.
It was good to see both of you once again and each of you gave strong presentations to the board. Unfortunately, many on the board just don't get it. The few of us that come down from our area or any area above us have a long way to travel and it pretty much takes your entire day to do so. This is also true for those that drive from south of Columbus. To spend that much time and energy to do so, should certainly be worthy of more time then 3 MINUTES to speak to the people that supposedly represent us! This is especially true, as many of the board members do not answer emails, so just how are we to get their attention?
I personally thank you and Dr. Fluke for your dedication to STRS retirees and their families. Those of us in CORE are very fortunate to have 2 educators of your quality continue to be involved in such an honorable mission. We all feel obligated to provide some oversight to help to keep a retirement system that was put in place for teachers, to stay in place for those coming behind us.
We have gained a lot in these past 4 years at the STRS, but there is so much more to be gained. We have opened doors, continued our mission, organized and have begun to be looked at as a serious organization.
Thank you again,
Tom Curtis
Scroll down to read posts regarding proposed legislation that would require school boards to establish alternative retirement plans for K-12 teachers and other school employees (see Jan. 17 posts, below). You need to contact your state representative NOW if you want to preserve your pension.

Click here to find your representative

For those who may wish to write to Rep. Michelle Schneider, who is looking for a co-sponsor for her "Alternative Retirement Plan" legislation (see post, Jan. 17), her e-mail address is:

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