President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Sept 20, 2018

One month ago, Mark Curtis-Chavez was an item in the consent agenda. One month on, he is here in the flesh occupying a seat at the cabinet table. I wanted to welcome him once more. In early conversations, he has already shared one initiative around enrollment with us in which he identifies faculty input as important to its success, and we look forward to working with him on that and other ideas in the coming months.

Turning to this evening’s agenda, you are set to approve renewal of the employee benefit plans tonight: item 8.d. I can report that our members did approve the college’s health insurance proposal with 88 % of the members voting in approval. I appreciate the effort made in crafting this proposal that will moderate the alarming and perhaps unexpected increases in premiums for the existing high deductible plan.

Nonetheless, when change is mentioned relative to insurance, emotions run high; people fear losses in something that is intimately essential and personal. And, it seems, the price always goes up. Given the inevitable tightness of the timeline between getting reliable data in July, to finalizing a proposal by August, people feel rushed, under-informed, and insecure. A lot of work went into the education process and I want to thank our Welfare representatives for their effort in this.

I am haunted by a phrase I heard at a board meeting back in 2016: the need to bend down the cost curve. Of course it is necessary to have costs commensurate with revenues. Health insurance cost increases constantly outpace revenue generation, largely due to factors beyond local control. Inevitably, this problem will be revisited again. Are there perhaps more radical approaches to the whole health insurance question to be explored here? Something perhaps to explore going forward.