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Paul R. Carlisle, PA
Paul R. Carlisle, Pennslyvania
With a son about to graduate college, Paul R., the aquatics director at Dickinson College, a liberal arts college in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was following healthcare reform closely, particularly the Dependent Coverage provision. He even had a New York Times alert set up to let him know when the bill was signed into law.”
“I emailed Human Resources the moment the bill was signed,” he said. “I asked them, ‘What’s going on? What are we going to do about this?’ I got a response that said, ‘We’ll get back to you.’”
Along with 12 – 15 fellow Dickinson colleagues in similar situations with children about to graduate off their parents’ insurance, Paul hoped the college would take a proactive position and immediately extend dependent care coverage for these staff and faculty children until their 26th birthday.
A week passed before the administration responded, saying they had evaluated the situation and they were going to offer dependent coverage beginning with the next enrollment period – in July of 2011. That would leave Paul’s son and the others without coverage for more than a year.
Paul had researched extension coverage such as Cobra and had learned it would cost anywhere between $400 – $600 per month. And Paul considered himself one of the lucky ones--his son was healthy with no pre-existing conditions. He knew others from Dickinson whose plight would have been much more expensive and complicated.
“So basically we started an email barrage,” says Paul. “One of my good friends sent an email to human resources with cc:s and everybody started replying to HR. We said it would be really helpful. We gave them examples of why we hoped the college would step up and do this. For a lot of us, it was simply, ‘if we un-enroll them and then re-enroll them next July, isn’t there a cost there and administrative paperwork to put them back in the system?’” Wouldn’t it make more sense, they wondered, to “just do it.”
Paul says as a group they kept up the inquiries and the pressure, ready with arguments that highlighted not just the practicality, but also effect on the workplace environment. Not only would paperwork be eased, but it would allow for continuity for these children who had regular doctors. College-age students, they reminded HR, were a relatively safe group, from an insurance standpoint. But just as important, Paul said, was that the college could make a statement about how it values its employees.
“If you want to maintain a positive environment and keep morale high, take care of your employees. This is a relatively inexpensive way to do this and to make a statement that you care about them and you’re going to take care of them.”
After a month or so of lobbying the question moved from HR to Budget and Planning and then all the way up to the top tier of the administration.
Following the concerted efforts of political science professors, swim coaches, groundskeepers and other involved parents, the president of Dickinson made an announcement: They had changed their position and they would begin covering dependent children immediately.
Paul was delighted, mostly. “We didn’t have to have rallies, make signs, there were no sit-ins – that kind of disappointed me,” he says, laughing. “We didn’t have to, the college did the right thing.”
Now his son is graduated, safely covered, and looking for work. Paul is coaching swim still. He is happy with the outcome and the efforts he put into it. “I just think it’s the right thing to do. Colleges can drop a big chunk of change on renovating a building or something like that. We just said take a piece of that and put it into your employees.”
This story brought to you by Campus Progress and the Getting Covered campaign.
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