Forwarded by Henry Steck, Officer for Retirees –
UUP has received good news for UUP-represented employees and retirees who are enrolled in the Empire Plan but live in states where they do not currently have access to in-network providers. The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations has announced that, beginning January 1, 2021, the Empire Plan is expanding its existing “network integration” to provide Empire Plan enrollees living outside of New York State with nation-wide access to participating providers. (Currently the Empire Plan’s “network integration” provides access to participating providers in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia, and the greater Chicago area.) This expansion will, for the first time, provide 252 out-of-state UUP-represented employees and thousands of retirees who currently don’t have access to participating providers with access to participating providers in the states where they live.
This expansion (which benefits out-of-state Empire Plan enrollees regardless of bargaining unit) has occurred as a direct result of our advocacy in the UUP Joint Committee on Health Benefits (JCHB). Responding to inquiries from adjunct faculty who live in states without network integration, we raised this issue in the JCHB. In response to our advocacy, the Department of Civil Service agreed to review the issue (something previously resisted and long overdue) and has now determined that providing nation-wide access to in-network providers is justified.
The network expansion will be announced in the upcoming Department of Civil Service Empire Plan Report and in individual letters to those living outside of the current network. The expanded list of participating providers will be visible in the online directory after January 1, 2021. UHC will provide specific search results from the online directory, by mail or email, to enrollees who desire printed provider information. Paper directories showing the expanded network will be published starting in August of 2021.