Status Report 2/8/10

 

 

Web Site:

The web site llnlretiree.com has a new look. I decided it had been under construction long enough. Thanks to Scooby, moderator of the LLNL Blog, for loan of the basic tombstone.

 

Fund Collection:

 

Several people have asked questions about the current fund drive that need to be answered.

 

1.                         Is this a new drive? It is a new or second fund drive. Now that our lawyers have done an initial analysis of the case, we have more assurance that we have a sound case, I expect to have some members who have been sitting on the fence chip in and to have second donations from some of the members who have already contributed. I also expect some donations from recent members that were not here for the first fund drive.

2.                         What is my fair share? If I had any idea how many would contribute, I might take a stab at that question. We are just like the government; we expect larger contributions from members who can afford more, so there is no “fair share”. I can give you some information from the first drive that might help. We collected ~$90K and paid the lawyers $15K so we have ~ $75K on hand. Contributions have ranged from $25 to $1,000. About 230 of the 680 retirees on our list have contributed with an average of $390 per contribution. It is impossible to give exact head counts because some contributions come from a retiree and dependent, some from a retiree only and some from a dependent only. We are targeting $150K for this round so we need $75K in additional contributions.

3.                          What will we get for our money? Lawyers do not come with commodity pricing, so we can only say what we expect to get. We expect to get the rest of the groundwork necessary to file suit and a get suit prepared. The $150K target is also intended to allow us to file suit, fend off attempts to dismiss the suit, discover what documents UC has pertinent to our suit and lay the groundwork for trial. Discovery should give us access to the names and addresses of all affected retirees so they can be asked to contribute to the cost of a trial if necessary. Our lawyers have estimated we will need between $75K and $150K to get to the point of trial, which sets the goal of $150K.

4.                         When do we contribute? Now is the time.  We have no formal deadline but we will not commit to buy legal services we don’t have the funds for so the sooner the better. We are trying to break the next step into two parts so we can fund the first part now and continue collecting funds for the second part while work on the first part continues.

5.                         How do we contribute? Instructions for contributing are on our web site.llnlretiree.com.

Make checks out to:

UCLRG Legal Defense Fund

Send checks to:

UCLRG Legal Defense Fund

C/O Barbara Sokoloski

1144 Xavier Way,

Livermore, CA 94550

 

Kaiser Under Medicare:

 

One of our members sent me the following information on the subject.

 

I have made some progress on the BofA debit card front and thought I would pass on what I have learned.

 

(1)  The debit card has no relationship to HRA withdrawals for Kaiser premiums on the BofA web site. The info on the debit card concerning premium payment is totally erroneous.  My wife however was able to use the debit card to pay for her medication.

 

(2)  The BofA web site can be used to pay Kaiser premiums provided one waits at least until the date the premium is due (02/01/2010 for February's premium for example) and then enters the date only in the "from" window, leaving to "to" window blank.  Similarly for the reimbursement for bills already paid, (01/01/2010 in the "from" window for reimbursement for January's premium already mailed to and posted by Hewitt).  The "pay-other" brinksmanship may come as a shock for those who are used to paying their bills in advance rather than waiting until on or after the due date, but it probably means that whoever is the beneficiary of the interest being accrued by the HRA accounts but not being posted to the HRA accounts is not going to  be shorted.  It's a little financial gimickry in which the retiree has been drafted to participate

 

(3)  You might be amused by the help BofA gave me over their 800 number on filling out the "pay-other" provider information.  Who is the provider?  Well it's not Kaiser.  It's our old pal LLNS LLC

The help person keyed into my site:

 

Nickname:  LLNS LLS

 

Name:  Liver More

 

Address:  wrong PO box number; wrong city, "Carol" IL; correct Zip.

 

The Liver More says it all.  The help person had received no training and apparently had never heard of the city of Livermore, California.  At another place the name Lawrence was mispelled.  But I shouldn't complain.  I could easily correct her entries, but I wouldn't have had a clue on what to enter myself if she had left the windows blank.  The whole set-up:  a napkin sketch over some power lunch.

 

You are exactly right about the debit card.  It seems that it can't be used in the way advertised.  I paid my January bill to Hewitt out-of-pocket and then went to the BofA web site for reimbursement.  Then I paid February's bill directly on BofA's web site.  Both methods require more "admin" skills than should be expected of retirees who are not professional admins.  In the first case you had best have a fax machine in your house so that you can fax the on-line provided fax sheet with 800 number and something from Hewitt showing that they received your check.  In the second case you have to be able to scan in Hewitt's bill so that it shows up as an image on the BofA computers.  I was able to do this in both cases only because I can still go to the Lab (on the "visiting scientist" program) and use their fax machine and digital sender machine, which scans a page, creates a pdf file and send it to your computer, which you can then upload to BofA computer.

This is a heck of a burden to put on retirees, but I am passing on the information in case it may help others to navigate the system or at least understand what they are up against.

 

I forgot to say that a remedy for this excessive administrative burden on the retiree would be for Hewitt and BofA to coordinate a verification of Hewitt bills paid out-of-pocked and of Hewitt bills which you pay directly on BofA's web site, so that the retiree does not have to verify these transactions to BofA using documents which he gets from Hewitt.  What is the Lab paying for if Hewitt and BofA don't talk to each other and make the retiree do all of the administrative work?.

 

 

Anthem Blue Cross:

 

Since most of the plans LLNS is offering are from Anthem Blue Cross, you might like to know how they are holding the line on medical costs. The following is from the San Francisco Chronicle on 2/6/10.

 

Anthem Blue Cross raises individual premiums

 

Has largest number of individual customers in state.

Last year Anthem raised rates by as much as 68% for some customers.

Anthem rates for individual customers to jump as much as 39% on 3/1/10.