- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources hosted members of the national Research Center Administrators Society (RCAS) in September for a tour, traveling from San Jose to Visalia, up to the mountains and then west to Paso Robles and Monterey, providing first-hand knowledge about the extraordinary agriculture industry and natural resources of the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast.
The 50 participants – research station managers, directors and university, college and USDA administrators – visited the San Romero Visitors Center at the San Luis Reservoir, where they learned about the state and federal complex of facilities that form the California State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. The tour continued through the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, an agricultural region that supplies supermarkets around the nation and world with a diversity of fruits and vegetables.
“The RCAS annual tours give research center directors and superintendents from across the country an opportunity to talk in informal settings about issues we have in common,” said Lisa Fischer, director of UC ANR's Research and Extension Center System. “Our tour in September also allows us to show the great things we are doing in California.”
At the 330-acre UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier, the visitors toured research plots of pistachios, almonds, tree fruit, wine and table grapes, and other crops, before traveling to the source of much of California water, the Sierra Nevada. In Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, the research station administrators saw the largest trees in the world.
While driving west across the vast San Joaquin Valley, the participants witnessed the change in cropping patterns, from citrus trees at the foot of the Sierras to vast dairy operations in Tulare and Kings counties, and farms that stretch thousands of acres in the west side of the valley,
As the bus ascended the Coast Range, UC Cooperative Extension advisor Royce Larsen pointed out the charred areas along the road where grass fires had robbed ranchers of forage for their cows. Larsen shared the other challenges faced by coastal rangeland managers and a new land use interest, developing solar farms in hot dry areas where irrigation water resources have dried up.
During the midday stop at J. Lohr Vineyards in Paso Robles, UCCE viticulture advisor Mark Battany detailed the growth of the local wine industry.
“In 1970s, there was about 1,000 acres of winegrapes in San Luis Obispo County,” Battany said. “In the 1990s and 2000s, we had an explosion of interest. Now have 50,000 acres of vineyards and the industry provides a tremendous boost to the local economy – with things like luxury hotels and fine dining.”
When the group reached the beach, the wind blew ferociously during a tour of the Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve in Cambria. Situated on a beautiful stretch of coastline, the reserve includes rocky shoreline, freshwater ponds, coastal grasslands and a mixed Monterey pine and coast live oak forest. In this UC research facility, development rights were donated to UC for research in perpetuity, but the owner reserves the right to build homes for family and workers.
The tour ended with visits to the Monterey County Ag and Rural Life Museum, a strawberry farm and the UC Cooperative Extension office in Monterey County.
“It was an honor for us to expose research directors to California agriculture,” Fischer said. “Many come from states that only produce two or three commodities at the commercial level. In California, we produce more than 400 commodities.”
Your Open Enrollment website and booklet will be available the week of Oct. 23, with all of the details about your options and costs, and what's changing in 2018.
“We are pleased that we have been able to keep premium costs exceptionally low for the overwhelming majority of our people,” said Dwaine B. Duckett, vice president of Systemwide Human Resources. “Employees still have an array of choices of high value, high quality plans at low rates — allowing them to improve or maintain their health and the health of their families.”
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- Continued low costs — Most faculty and staff will see medical plan premium increases of less than $10 a month across all salary and coverage levels. Premium increases for UC Care will be a bit higher, ranging from $17-$53 a month. UC will continue to adjust premiums by pay level to ensure costs are distributed fairly, and to offer dental and vision plans for you and your family at no cost to faculty and staff. See this year's rates here.
- Explore UC's diverse options or stay in current plan — UC will continue to offer the same choice of quality medical plans next year. Health care needs can change over time, so take a moment to review UC's full range of plan choices to make sure you have the best fit for you and your family.
- Changes for 2018 – See below for details about a new pharmacy benefits administrator for UC's preferred provider organization (PPO) plans and network changes for members of Western Health Advantage (WHA).
- Ways to manage your costs — You don't have to sacrifice the quality of your care to keep your costs down. Here are a few suggestions:
- If your medical need is not an emergency, save time and money by skipping the emergency room and getting the care you need from your plan's advice nurse, telemedicine provider or urgent care center.
- Consider enrolling in UC's Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Plan with a Health Savings Account to lower your tax bill by paying for health care costs with pretax dollars.
- To help you make informed health care choices, take advantage of tools like Castlight (available with UC's PPO plans) to compare doctors and medical services for cost, quality and convenience.
- Benefits to help you stay well — Seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups helps you prevent problems later on, and check-ups (and other preventive care) are free with every UC plan. You should also check your plan's website for information about free wellness and health management tools. For example, your plan may offer fitness and nutrition classes, health coaching programs, discounts on gym memberships, and apps or online tools to help you manage your care.
Changes to UC's PPO pharmacy benefits
For 2018, Anthem Blue Cross will replace OptumRx in administering pharmacy benefits for all of UC's preferred provider organization (PPO) medical plans. Anthem currently administers medical and behavioral health benefits for UC's PPO plans, and will continue in that role in 2018. This change will affect faculty, staff and retirees enrolled in the following PPO plans:
- UC Care
- UC Health Savings Plan
- UC High Option Supplement to Medicare
- UC Medicare PPO with Rx
UC is working to minimize disruption for members, but you should expect changes to the formulary, to processes and to pharmacy, mail order and specialty networks. There are a few steps you should take to make sure you're prepared for the change. Please look for further details during Open Enrollment.
Changes for Western Health Advantage members
Although UC Davis Health has ended its ownership and commercial network participation in Western Health Advantage (WHA), UC and WHA have come to a special arrangement for UC employees. Through this arrangement, UC WHA members and their families may continue to see their current UC Davis Health primary care provider (PCP) or select a UC Davis Health PCP in the future. WHA members will not have access to the Advantage Referral program, which allowed you to self-refer to specialists within WHA's network. Instead, starting in 2018, your PCP will refer you to an appropriate provider if you require specialty care.
As soon as your Open Enrollment booklet arrives, take time to review your choices so you'll have the right benefits for you and your family in 2018./span>
UC Systemwide Human Resources is working with UC's benefit plan carriers to ensure their readiness to meet the needs of those affected by the devastating wildfires in Northern and Southern California.
If you need extra assistance, please contact your plan directly (contact information is here and below). Customer service representatives will do their best to offer the help you need as quickly as possible.
Replacing lost prescriptions
If you have lost an essential prescription medication in the fire, you or your pharmacy may call your pharmacy benefits administrator and request an emergency supply. You may also request a change of address for your home delivery, or a transfer to pick up your prescription at a network pharmacy.
Seeking medical, dental or vision care
If your medical facility is closed due to the fires, or if you have left the area and are unable to see your usual medical or dental provider, please call your plan's customer service representative for help finding a provider near you.
Any VSP member in need of eye care and/or replacement glasses due to the wildfires can call VSP Member Services at 800-877-7195 and have their VSP benefits reinstated regardless of eligibility.
Emotional health support
There are a number of options available to those who need emotional support coping with stress and loss caused by the wildfires. Please contact your Faculty and Staff Assistance Program or your behavioral health plan for a referral.
Claims for loss of life or property, disability
UC faculty or staff in Northern California who have an auto, homeowner or renter's policy with California Casualty and have been forced to evacuate their home, suffered smoke damage, or suffered other fire related damage, please call 800-800-9410. Press 4 when prompted or remain on the line to be transferred to a claims specialist who will quickly assist you.
If you are a UC employee impacted by the fires and you have a current disability claim, Liberty Mutual will support you by:
- Exercising leniency with regard to providing notice of loss, proof of loss, medical record due dates, and appeal deadlines
- Accepting a verbal change-of-address (with appropriate information to establish identity)
- Offering option to activate direct deposit for short-term disability
- Waiving the 10-day waiting period for stop payment procedures and reissuance of benefits
Liberty Mutual will send a special email message to claimants (who have provided an email address) covering the above information and providing alternate contact information.
Prudential stands ready to assist with any life or AD&D claim issues that might need special handling of any kind.
Contact information for UC plans
- Medical (Anthem): 844-437-0486
- Behavioral health (Anthem): 844-792-5141
- Pharmacy (OptumRx): 855-489-0651 (Core, UC Care, UC Health Savings Plan); 855-798-4682 (UC High Option, UC Medicare PPO)
- Medical and pharmacy:
o Health Net Blue & Gold: 800-539-4072
o Health Net Seniority Plus: 800-443-0815
o Kaiser Permanente: 800-464-4000
o Kaiser Senior Advantage: 800-443-0815
o Western Health Advantage (WHA): 888-563-2252
- Behavioral health:
o Optum Behavioral Health (Health Net Blue & Gold, Kaiser Permanente, WHA): 888-440-8225
o Kaiser: Call your local clinic
- Delta Dental: 800-777-5854 (PPO); 800-422-4234 (HMO)
- Vision Service Plan (VSP): 866-240-8344
- California Casualty: 800-800-9410
- Liberty Mutual: 800-838-4461
- Prudential: 800-524-0542
UC Office of the President invites comments on a proposed new policy for Crime Awareness and Campus Security (Clery Act). The proposed policy can be viewed at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/271802.pdf.
The Clery Act (otherwise officially known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, section 485 of the Higher Education Act, codified at 20 U.S.C. 1092 (f)) is a federal law requiring colleges and universities across the United States that receive Title IV funding to disclose information about particular crimes on and around their campuses and related policies. It is the policy of the University to comply with its obligations under the Clery Act and California law.
In accordance with statutory requirements, the University strives to ensure students, faculty and other academic appointees, and staff employees (the “University Community”), have access to accurate information about crimes committed on and around the campus; as well as, access to University wide security policies and related local campus procedures and a confidential reporting process for victims and witnesses. This policy describes roles and responsibilities for the University Community related to compliance with legal requirements regarding crime reporting, awareness and prevention.
If you have any questions or if you wish to comment, please contact Robin Sanchez at email@example.com, no later than Nov. 10, 2017. Please indicate “Clery Act Policy” in the subject line.
UC offers comprehensive benefits to faculty, staff and retirees, and to their families. The rules around these benefits can be complicated, though, especially for domestic partners. If you are in a domestic partnership, check out Establishing a Domestic Partnership and Benefits for Domestic PartnersPDF to make sure you understand the rules and how to ensure your partner doesn't lose out on any valuable benefits.
One important reminder is that eligibility requirements for health and welfare benefits are different from eligibility requirements for UC Retirement Plan (UCRP) benefits. That means your partner might be eligible for one kind of benefits, but not the other — and only if you take the necessary steps. Here's an overview.
Health and welfare benefits
Opposite-gender domestic partners are only eligible for health and welfare benefits if the employee or the domestic partner is age 62 or older. For same-gender domestic partners, there is no age requirement for health and welfare benefits eligibility.
While no documentation of the relationship is required to enroll and start coverage, you will receive a Family Member Eligibility Verification packet which will require you to provide proof of your domestic partnership in order to continue the coverage. If you do not provide proof, your partner will be disenrolled.
UCRP survivor and death benefits
UCRP is different. There is no age requirement for eligibility for UCRP survivor and death benefits for same-gender or opposite-gender domestic partners. But your domestic partnership must be established by an approved method, apart from the Family Member Eligibility Verification process described above. See Establishing a Domestic Partnership and Benefits for Domestic PartnersPDF for details.
It is very important to know that if you pass away before completing the steps to establish your domestic partnership, your partner could forego UCRP benefits. Protect the UCRP benefits to which your partner may be entitled by formally establishing your domestic partnership as soon as possible, regardless of whether you're enrolling your partner in UC health and welfare benefits.
Please note that Savings Choice does not include UCRP survivor or death benefits, but you can leave the vested balance of your Savings Choice account to the beneficiary or beneficiaries of your choice. Establishing a Domestic Partnership explains how to make sure all of your beneficiary information is up to date./h3>/h3>