COGS students critical of Regents’ UI Grad Care proposal


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The state Board of Regents and University of Iowa officials presented their initial contract proposal to the UI Campaign to Organize Graduate Students on Thursday, and some students are concerned with possible changes to UI Grad Care.

COGS had presented its proposal two weeks ago, which focused on a 5 percent increase in wages, lowering the cost of health insurance for graduate employees with families, reimbursement of fees, and extending full tuition scholarships to teaching and research assistants in any college.

The initial proposals will be followed by rounds of bargaining and discussions and finally culminate in the formulation of a contract in February 2013. The new contract would then be effective from 2013 through 2015.

COGS President Jason Whisler said while the regents’ initial proposal avoided talking about finances in great detail — concentrating more on changing the language in the contract —he was not excited about their proposal to alter UI Grad Care.

“Their main proposal involves the UI Grad Care, our health care,” he said. “They want to decrease our coverage on that and really do some damage to the Grad Care that we have worked a long time to build up.”

The regents proposed a three-tier system in which employees — in this case, more than 2,500 UI graduate students — will have to pay more if their insurer is not one of the university’s insurance providers.

A copy of the proposal, which was briefly presented in the Pappajohn Business Building, shows changes at many levels including doubled co-pays for students with insurance providers outside the university; students with insurers outside of Iowa would see co-pays increase four times for such services as in-hospital physician care.

Whisler said the proposal also aims to increase the threshold for out-of-pocket limit, a move that will coerce the students to pay more money — in some cases double — toward their health-care costs.

UI Ph.D. candidate Sarah Eikleberry said one of her top priorities is to see to the maintenance of Grad Care in a way that is more beneficial to graduate employees.

“I can’t say that I am surprised,” she said, reacting to the changes proposed to UI Grad Care. “I know they are trying to save money; however, I would appreciate if the university would try to save money in places that don’t influence my excellent health care and also the pittance that I take home as wages as a teaching assistant.”

Several regents did not return messages Thursday.

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