Palm Springs III

     Frankly, I have never considered myself to be just a bottom line numbers person and I have to say that what bothers me the most about this motion is how we could consider dealing with our staff in such a callous way, proposing to relocate them to another part of the country in disregard of their personal preferences and family associations.  I don’t believe that even to think of such a step affirms and promotes the inherent worth and dignity of every employee, or extends to them justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

     There is a great deal more which could be said on this subject and I don’t mean to oversimplify it, but my advice is to put this divisive and distracting idea aside.  The financial costs are much higher than you may think;  the savings much less;  the human cost inconsistent with our values.  We can spend the next several years arguing over this proposal or we can bend our efforts to strengthening our Association and supporting the value systems we cherish.  I think that moving, and moving forward are mutually exclusive.

     The second matter we need to talk about is a most painful one.

     There has been a major concern drawing the attention of your Board of Trustees, of the UUA Administration, of the Council on Church Staff Finances, of the UUMA and of many of its individual members for the past three years.  It is a matter on which I have not reported to you in the past, because until the last several months, most of those involved hoped for a happy resolution.

     I am talking about the health insurance program which covers some 30-35% of our ministers, plus a number of staff in our member congregations.  This is a complex problem and I cannot begin to go into it in any depth, but I must report with much distress, that at its meeting on Wednesday last, the UUA Board voted to terminate the plan.

     We have been faced with a combination of factors which have rendered the plan no longer financially viable.

- Declining enrollment in the Plan as younger ministers find it too costly, and
- Produces too small a group to pool premiums to cover claims and leaves us with
- Heavy claims experience.  We are currently paying out more than we are collecting in premiums.

     Our own problems within the plan structure have been exacerbated by external factors, principally:

- Sharply rising health costs, and
- A government policy insensitive to the financial risks borne by its citizens when their health is at stake.

     And I might add that it is not just the present administration in Washington that has failed to lead us to health care parity with the rest of the civilized nations.  This problem is at least 50 years old.

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