President Bloom's (Current) Recommendation on the Living Wage

Since I distributed a recommendation from my staff and myself addressing the family health care costs of lower paid College employees, I have learned of a federally sponsored/state administered program, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)*, which covers the cost of health insurance for the children of employees who would have been covered by our recommendation. CHIP in fact offers better coverage than the College would have been able to offer. We therefore amend the original recommendation to state the following:

The President and his staff recommend that the Board consider adding a subsidy, conditional on means-testing, to cover the costs of health insurance for partners or spouses of employees earning up to $14/hr. Employees would be expected to make use of CHIP to cover the health insurance costs of their children, and the College would assist them in doing so.

The recommendation ensures that the employees that it covers will not have to use their benefit bank funds for the cost of health insurance and thus will be able to draw those funds in cash and thereby receive salaries consistent with the $10.72/hr. for a single adult, as recommended by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Living Wage. A sliding scale like the one described in the committee's report would be used to administer this new benefit. Whether the College can implement this recommendation all at once or in stages over a few years will depend on budgetary constraints. The estimated annual cost of this revised recommendation is $54,000.

* CHIP, a well-regarded health insurance program for children of low income families, provides free health care for children aged 0 through 18. Families with a range of income roughly up to approximately $15/hr are eligible. CHIP uses commercial HMO networks and has the advantage of no co-pays for office visits or prescriptions.