AC vote ends clergy health plan, replaced with allowance

10/20/2014

Bishop Scott Jones has reviewed the tally of the votes cast by clergy and lay members of the Annual Conference. An overwhelming majority approved the use of the mail/email ballot instead of asking for a special session. The vote was also overwhelming to approve the recommendation of the Connecting Council to end the Conference health plan for clergy appointed to local churches and enrolled lay staff. (Remember that employees of the Conference and clergy appointed to our largest church will continue to be covered by their employers.) The results of the ballot are as follows:

  1. Do you approve the use of this mail ballot?
1149 Yes                                                             59 No
  1. Do you approve the Connecting Council recommendation to end our Conference health insurance plan to pastors appointed to the local churches and enrolled lay employees of local churches?

1066 Yes                                                             158 No

Thus, there will be no special session of the Annual Conference on Oct. 25. And therefore, the Conference health plan will no longer be in effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
 
To help clergy and local church leaders in this transition, a resource called “Guidelines and Instructions for Great Plains Clergy Health Insurance” can be found at www.GreatPlainsUMC.org/HealthInsurance. This web page will supply information on how to complete clergy compensation forms as well as all the background leading up to the vote. The Frequently Asked Questions document is updated regularly.
 
"This has been a difficult and complex decision, but I am proud of our Pensions and Health Benefits Team, the Conference staff, the Cabinet and all of us for the way we have carefully considered our options and taken a clear and timely decision," said Jones.


___________________________________________________________________________

Annual conference member ballot begins Oct. 10

Connecting Council recommends ending clergy health benefits

Active clergy would receive health insurance allowance instead

Gary Beach webcast script
Mike Chamberlain webcast script
Recorded Oct. 9, webcast video
Frequently Asked Questions (including Kansas Exchange Rates) (Updated 10/20)
Nebraska Exchange Rates
Voting Options Document

The Great Plains Conference Connecting Council met in Hastings, Nebraska, Oct. 3-4, to review a full agenda of conference business.
 
The main item of business was the consideration of the Pension and Health Benefits Team recommendation for clergy health benefits coverage for 2015.
 
The Pension and Health Benefits Team recommended a conference premium increase from $14,232 for 2015 to $17,232, and deductibles for clergy would double, for each three-quarter or full-time pastor. After much discussion, the Connecting Council determined it would be better to end the Conference health insurance program for pastors and instead provide a health care allowance. Moving this recommendation forward requires a vote of the annual conference members, including permission to honor the ballot.
 
Decision-Making Process
Ballots will be sent by email to all annual conference voting members for whom we have an email address and by U.S. mail for those for whom we do not have an email address. Voting will start on Oct. 10 and conclude by 3 p.m., on Monday, Oct. 20. The result will be announced at 4:30 p.m., CDT on Oct. 20. The ballot will be determined by a simple majority.
 
The ballot for annual conference voting members will have two questions:
  1. Do you approve the use of this mail ballot? A no vote will ask Bishop Jones to call a special session of annual conference to be held in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Oct. 25, beginning at 10 a.m. CDT. (Yes or No) (No matter how you vote on question 1 you must vote on question 2, in case there is no special called session.)
  1. Do you approve the Connecting Council recommendation to end our conference health insurance plan for pastors appointed to local churches and enrolled lay employees of local churches? (Yes or No) (A no vote on question 2 will approve Option 2, which maintains our current plan with the increased premium and deductible for 2015.)
Questions regarding the plan should be forwarded to Carol Fusaro at cfusaro@greatplainsumc.org or gbeach@greatplainsumc.org.

If you learn that a voting member of the annual conference has not received correspondence by Oct. 10, please have them contact rdelisi@greatplainsumc.org or call 402-464-5994, ext. 107.

Webcast on Thurs. Oct. 9, to answer questions

A webcast will be available at 7 p.m. CDT featuring Conference Treasurer and Director of Administration Gary Beach, Pension and Health Benefits Chairwoman Kelly Williams and Dean of the Cabinet and Kansas City District Superintendent Mike Chamberlain answering questions. The webcast is available at GreatPlainsUMC.org/livestream. A test of the live stream will be available Thursday, Oct. 9, from 2:30-3:30 p.m., to test your local connection.
 
Send questions ahead of time to info@greatplainsumc.org.
 


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