From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:56:56


                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
WILMINGTON, Del.--Continuing its dramatic recovery from near financial ruin 
in 1989-90, the Board of Pensions (BOP) announced last week that dues for 
major medical coverage will remain at 16 percent of effective salary in 
     This marks the fourth year in a row that major medical dues have 
remained unchanged. 
     With pension dues remaining at 12 percent, churches and other 
employing agencies will continue to pay 28 percent of their covered 
employees' salaries for medical and pension coverage. 
     In 1989, the Board faced a $16.4 million accumulated deficit in its 
major medical fund.  Several rounds of benefits cuts and dues increases 
began to reverse the trend and at the Board's March 23-25 meeting Beverly 
Dodson, chair of the Healthcare Committee said, "We bring you good news": 
reserves in the major medical fund reached $29 million by the end of 1994. 
     "We have no specific target figure for adequate reserves," BOP 
president John Detterick told the Presbyterian News Service, "but they are 
probably getting to a good point now." 
     BOP chair D. Eugene Sibery told the Board, "I commend the staff for 
their leadership and hard work -- we've come a long way since 1989." 
   1994 budget, investments and HMO pilot project also positive 
     There was more good financial news.  Vice-president and Comptroller 
Frank Maloney reported that the Board's 1994 operating budget came in 13 
percent below projected costs. 
     And, due to a solid performance by its investment portfolio, the Board 
will ask the 1995 General Assembly to approve a 3 percent experience 
apportionment.  If approved, the apportionment will mean a 3 percent 
increase in retirement, disability and survivor benefits effective August 
1, 1995, and in accrued pension credits for active members of the Board's 
pension plan. 
     The Board was also told that enrollment has begun in four presbyteries 
for pilot health maintenance organization (HMO) programs that are scheduled 
to begin April 1.  Overall enrollment in the four presbyteries -- Greater 
Atlanta (including Columbia Theological Seminary), Chicago, San Francisco 
and San Jose -- has reached 31 percent. 
     "That is an excellent response," Detterick said.  "Various people 
around here estimated anywhere from 20 to 30 percent."  He added that "now 
we have to monitor the effect of this experiment on our claims experience" 
to determine the feasibility of expanding the HMO option. 
          New vice-president appointed, officers elected 
     Board members were introduced to Joan A. Walker, who has been named 
vice-president for the pension division.  She was formerly benefits manager 
for Villanova University and has been in the health and retirement benefits 
field for more than 20 years. 
     The Board reelected Sibery, of Cape Coral, Fla., to another term as 
chair and Stanley W.  Anderson of Arvada, Colo., as first vice-chair.  The 
Rev. Heidi Peterson, Overland Park, Kan., was reelected second vice-chair. 
     The Board also honored the Rev. Richard H. Campbell, longtime Central 
Regional representative, on the occasion of his retirement. 
           Decision on "Relief of Conscience" deferred 
     Action on a proposal to make what Detterick called "a bookkeeping 
adjustment" in the Board's "relief of conscience" provision for persons and 
churches opposed to abortion was deferred until the Board's August meeting. 
     The 1992 General Assembly approved a "capture of dues" policy in which 
the dues of anti-abortion churches and members are diverted to portions of 
the major medical fund where they would clearly not be spent to pay for 
abortion procedures. 
     Representatives of the BOP met in January with several groups who are 
dissatisfied with the "capture of dues" policy and then suggested an 
alternative that establishes an account within the major medical fund to 
cover abortion costs. 
     "It's virtually unchanged from our previous policy -- a minor 
variation," Detterick said. 
     Several reproductive rights groups expressed concern, however, that 
the proposed change isolates abortion funding from other parts of the major 
medical plan and therefore makes it more vulnerable to attack by 
anti-abortion forces in the church.  Those groups also complained that the 
change was proposed without sufficient conversation between the Board and 
all groups concerned about the issue. 
     Detterick said a plan is being developed for the Board to consult with 
any and all interested parties before the proposed change is reintroduced 
to the Board at its August 3-5 meeting. 
                                 # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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