BLOG purpose

This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog authors serve as moderators. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Question about Retiree Medical

More on Retiree Medical from an anonymous contributor:

At the transition, LLNS said that retirees that took the Lump Sum Cashout from UCRP would be eligible for access only coverage, which meant that they would get the same rates as employees ( or other retirees), but would have to pay the full amount. Is this still true? Does anyone who reads this blog know of anyone who has tried this? Is this affected by the new retiree benefits plan? What are the rates? I know, lots of questions. Any info would be appreciated.

Attrition poll

Percentages of people leaving:

19 < 6 months
9 > 6 < 1y
17 > 1y < 2 y
11 > 2y < 5y
20 > 5y < 10y
22 > 10y

Assuming, this is anywhere near accurate, 45% of people will leave in 2 years or less. Can someone in LLNS tell us how they plan to replace them? or is that what the bureaucrats call "managed attrition"?

Friday, November 28, 2008

401b plan?

Bruzer said:

Just Received in the mail a booklet informing us we are moving to a new and improved retirement 401b plan with VanGuard. Does anyone have any thoughts or concerns regarding this one
My first impression is whats in it for them?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Health Care Dates Extended, but not for all?

Contributed anonymously:

Health Care Dates Extended, but not for all?
Meds to cost at least 3 times as much!



I'm hearing that the extension of the deadlines for health care is only for those who are Medicare qualified- which I think means 65 or older. Does anyone know if true?

Also what will the various plans cost us?

Looks like Kaiser has gone from a 90 day supply of meds to a 30 day supply, for the same price. Such a deal!
Not what the 11/20/08 article in the Independent says:
-----------------------------------
Period Extended for Lab Retirees to Sign Up for Health Care
By Independent News

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory retirees are concerned that they may not be able to sign up for health care benefits by the deadline. Because of that concern, the Lab is extending the open enrollment period.

Currently, the retirees are being asked to sign up for the benefits by Nov. 27. The problem is that many people cannot get through to Extend Health, the company hired to take on the task. Waits of up to two to three hours on the telephone have been reported, with no one ever answering.

Jeff Garberson, a member of the retirees organization, said people are upset and scared. "Someone has to step in."

Lynda Seaver, from the Lab's public affairs department, said, "There has been some difficulty in signing up. It is taking longer than originally anticipated. The problem is the massive number of retirees." She added that 30 percent have been enrolled, so the system is working.

Seaver added, "We know that people are concerned. We are trying to do what we can to improve the situation."

In order to make sure, all those who want to sign up are able to do so, Seaver said the open enrollment deadline is being extended to mid-December. People will still receive their health care I.D. cards in time with the later deadline. In addition, people can call in to set up exclusive personal appointments.

There is also concern that benefits are being changed.

Seaver said nothing is really changed. Rather than being a group insurance, as in the past, it is now individual insurance.

Under the new system, each person will have $2400 placed into a health care reimbursement account. The cost of care and premiums will be withdrawn each month. "There will be no change in the quality of care," said Seaver.

She also said that it is estimated there would be no out of pocket expenses that retirees would have to pay.

However, one retiree pointed out that the money is not sufficient to cover Medicare Part B. People could end up $200 in the hole at the end of the year.

Part B of Medicare is intended to fill some of the gaps in medical insurance coverage left under Part A. After the beneficiary meets the annual deductible, Part B will pay 80% of the "reasonable charge" for covered services, the reimbursement rate determined by Medicare; the beneficiary is responsible for the remaining 20% as "co-insurance."

Seaver said that under most scenarios involving Part B, retirees would have no out of pocket expenses. If the most expensive plan were selected, there would be a small amount. She said the $200 a year mentioned was in the ballpark.

Seaver explained that what retirees are not factoring in is that some of the services are now paid for that retirees had to pay under UC. She added the cost of health care is going up everywhere. "We are providing the same dollars for health care. There is just a different way of delivering it."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

DOE nuc safety questionned!

Published by Frank Young in the LANL BLOG:

By ROGER SNODGRASS, The Los Alamos Monitor

In a lengthy report released Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office questioned the effectiveness of the Department of Energy’s nuclear safety program for 205 high-hazard facilities, including the 19 facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

In an unusual sign of contention, officials of the Department of Energy responded with 20 pages of formal comments on why they found GAO’s draft report to be “fundamentally flawed” and disagreed with many of its conclusions, prompting GAO to add several more pages of responses to DOE’s detailed comments.

Reps. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, who requested the report issued a joint statement saying, “the report confirmed their concerns about how safety has taken a backseat at DOE because the offices responsible for safety also face competing concerns in the area of productivity.”

The report focuses on the effects of DOE’s decision in 2006 to combine what were separate offices for safety and health and for safety and security performance assurance into a single Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS), with a few left-over functions distributed to other offices.

While on one level a typical act of bureaucratic consolidation, the decision was interpreted by critics as a political decision at the time that sacrificed health and safety in favor of productivity, while proponents argued that it would result in less wasteful paperwork and a more effective system of national security.

GAO’s conclusion, in brief, “is that DOE has structured its independent oversight office, HSS in a way that falls short of meeting our key elements of effective oversight of nuclear safety.”

Specifically, the GAO found that the combined office lacks independence, technical expertise and the ability to perform reviews, while not doing enough to require that findings be addressed, enforced and subject to public access.

In its detailed response, DOE rejected those conclusions, charging that GAO had evaluated HSS in isolation rather than in the context of the overall DOE governance model.

And, among other flaws, that GAO was imposing its own preconceived opinion of the functions of that office, rather than having an open-minded acceptance of the possible validity of other approaches than its own.

The structural change at DOE was fiercely opposed by worker safety proponents and public interest groups in Washington as soon as DOE announced its intention in May 2006.

One campaign organized by the Government Accountability Project at the time included letters from former Environmental Safety and Health Assistant Secretaries, professional and labor organizations, and a joint letter signed by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire.

DOE also anticipated and confronted objections from the beginning, declaring that the intent of the restructuring was “not to dismantle safety.”

In releasing the report, Congressmen Dingell and Stupak said they were encouraged by the report to consider finding an external regulator for the department, if it continues to fail to take appropriate measures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Congressman Cardoza shares Valley frustration with Treasury Secretary Paulson

Congressman Cardoza shares Valley frustration with Treasury Secretary Paulson

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Dennis Cardoza delivered a frustrated and angry message to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Monday on behalf of the residents of the Central Valley.

“In the most direct way possible I told Secretary Paulson that his efforts to date are completely unacceptable,” Cardoza said. “He keeps telling us they averted a financial crisis. I told him that in my district, we are in a recession. And to those who have lost their homes, we are in a depression. More needs to be done now. The country cannot wait for President Obama.”

The congressman added that, “I wanted to deliver the message to him that I knew everyone in my district wanted to send -- act now.”

The Congressman made the comments during tense closed-door talks he participated in when Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke met with the House speaker, majority leader and a handful other top Congressional leaders Monday.

Congressman Cardoza further added that he is becoming increasingly skeptical of the piecemeal approach to handling the financial crisis shown by the Treasury.

“It is understood that we are treading in uncharted waters,” Cardoza said. “However, I and my constituents are totally disgusted by the lack of action. Clearly the Administration does not understand the gravity of the situation on Main Street.”

In October, Congressman Cardoza reluctantly supported the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act only after guarantees were included in the legislation that taxpayers would be protected and the foreclosure crisis would be averted.

Earlier this month, Congressman Cardoza wrote to Secretary Paulson expressing his extreme dissatisfaction that the Treasury had abandoned plans to purchase faulty mortgage backed securities as had originally been negotiated between Paulson and Congress.

“It is time that they get off the dime and did something for the hard-working Americans who pay their salary,” Cardoza said.

DOE to give $25 Billion to US Automakers??

UPDATE: DOE Bodman: May Have Loans For Auto Cos By Year End

November 19, 2008: 11:39 AM EST

(Updates with Bodman comments)

By Ian Talley

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Auto companies have submitted to the Department of Energy five applications for $25 billion in loans to retool plants for fuel- efficient vehicles, and DOE could disburse funds by the end of the year, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Wednesday.
"We're in the process of evaluating them, and so depending on the quality of the applications ... it's possible we'll have money available by the end of the year," Bodman said on the sidelines of a conference here.

Bodman did not say what companies had submitted the loan applications.
Auto companies Ford Motor Co. (F), General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler LLC have come to Congress this week seeking additional government funding of $25 billion in loans to make sure they can remain financially solvent for the next six months.

Republicans are blocking moves by Democrats for the additional funding, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he's working on a compromise bill to use the current $25 billion in loans for the emergency funding.

Bodman said he hoped the Bush administration and Congress could change how the loans are disbursed and he was against more loans for the companies. The loans are allowed to be distributed only for retooling plants to create advanced cars and trucks with much better fuel economy.

"It is not a useful thing to have another $25 billion, (and) I would hope ... Congress will modify the rules under which we can operate," he said. "Nobody wants to see these companies go broke."

-By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9285; ian.talley@dowjones.com
(Josh Mitchell in Washington contributed to this report)


(END) Dow Jones Newswires
11-19-08 1139ET
Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company

What did you think of the G Miller presentation?

Anonymous wants to know: What did you think of the G Miller presentation?

He/She said:

Looked like, with a few token exceptions, the only LLNL accomplishments he was aware of were NIF related or the WCI awards (oh yeah, the dragon boat team got 3 photos- science at its best).

He made it clear that he is not interested in promoting WFO, by stating that even though overhead rates are still high we brought in more WFO in the last cycle.

How about the weird statements from Arnold Sch., wildly supportive of NIF...? Are we now having our scientific reviews not by peers but by uneducated celebrities? Does anyone funding our work at LLNL think Arnold is a credible expert on fusion or lasers or nuclear energy? Really makes it look like NIF and LIFE are in big trouble technically if they are resorting to such shenanagins. Guess they figured out that the new administration is likely to accelerate the trend of cut backs on funding for fusion energy. They never mention NIF being used to study nuclear weapons anymore. Can't help but feel sorry for Arnold for how they made a fool of him.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Seeking retiree's support!

By Mr Requa:
It is certainly immoral and almost certainly illegal for UC to transfer liability for LLNL retiree medical benefits to LLNS. Those of us affected are having our benefits cut now and probably eliminated in the near future. UC's web site promises us that if we were receiving medical benefits immediately before retiring, we would continue to receive those benefits after retiring. In my case, they provided my medical coverage for 7 years, then suddenly declared they were no longer responsible for coverage and told me a Limited Liability Company would be providing my coverage. Being one of those retirees who is not eligible for Medicare, loosing my medical coverage would be catastrophic.

Like most of these situations, it is complex enough that a short letter can't cover all the facts. I have set up a web site at: http://home.comcast.net/~jrequa/retiree.htm which explains the situation. I am seeking support from other retirees to help address the issue.

Our most critical need is to find a law firm to help us. So far, I have been unable to find one which will evaluate the merits of our case. I have been advised by two law firms that immediate action is necessary in order to protect our legal options. If you, your lawyers, or any of your members can recommend an appropriate firm please let me know.

jrequa@comcast.net

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NIF, NIF, NIF!

An anonymous contributors said:

"Put your hip waders on. GM has rolled out the new and improved NIF. And I always thought it was a weapons research tool. Fooled again by the master nipple farmer."

Another said:
"I suggest a new thread on the next heroin program that Moses is on that is eating up SMS/LDRD and got the Governor to talk up."

Let the comments pour in!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

LLNS is unfair

Anonymously contributed:

A letter to the editor regarding LLNL retiree benefit changes has been published in the Nov. 6 issue of The Independent Newspaper, on page 5.
Find it at

http://independentnews.com/uploads/pdf/1_06112008_1225936863.pdf


This policy change is such a blatant and obvious example of a LLNS management system that has lost it's moral and ethical compass , that further letters to newspapers or congress people could re-open the whole privatization issue at LLNL and LANL. Now is your chance to make a difference.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Armold visiting NIF on Monday?

Anonymous said:
Arnold Shwartznegger is visiting NIF on Monday; does anyone know what time?

Monday, November 3, 2008

LLNL expansion?

Will congress do it?

Oakland Tribune

Home campaign inappropriate?

Anonymously contributed:

LLNL has announced that it will make a large corporate donation to this years HOME charity campaign. I am a strong supporter of the HOME campaign and have made personal contributions, along with thousands of other employees, yearly over my 30-year career. A corporate donation seems particularly inappropriate this year.

This year the lab has downsized the workforce by about 2000 people including involuntary layoffs. Lab retirees have been notified that many older than 65 will loose the safety net of their group medical plan. After being told that ongoing staff and benefit reductions are necessary because of funding shortfalls, it seems totally irresponsible for management to make a donation up to $1 million of taxpayers money to outside agencies particularly when dedicated employees and retirees are suffering from these cuts. Selection of elderly retirees to be the first group to loose group medical coverage also seems particularly mean-spirited and disrespectful.

In my opinion, the lab contains talented, dedicated individuals with irreplaceable knowledge critical to our national security. They deserve to be treated with respect, not the bureaucratic humiliations described above.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Screwed!

Anonymous said:

The screw tightens...

With 17 years, 7 months service at the time of the May lay-offs, I was expecting severance payments over 9 pay periods (17 years plus the extra week's pay for "a fractional year of fulltime equivalent service of 6 months or more" [this quote pulled directly from HR policy at the time of the layoff]. Imagine my surprise when I didn't receive the final check! Payroll apparently took my entire severance payment and divided by 8, not 9. And HR stated that "the 6 month calculation for the additional week's pay was by CALENDAR year not continuous service." Therefore, NONE OF THE TERMINATED EMPLOYEES received that 'bonus' week's pay because termination date was June 20 (we didn't quality until June 30). HR stated that "they tried to clarify this in the All-Hands meetings prior to VSSOP and layoffs." BULL! LLNS did it to save themselves thousands of dollars and once again turn the screw in the backs of loyal, dedicated workers. Contact your attorneys, folks. This is just wrong!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shame on you GM and company!

Anonymous said:

I also received the packet from LLNL, signed by GM, regarding changes in health benefits for medicare retirees. Since no specific details or contact information were provided for Extended Health, I searched their web site for information about the company. The following contains direct quotes from the company.

1) "The Company’s unique platform and services enable corporations to move employees and retirees from a group benefits platform to an individualized, defined-contribution program." [http://www.extendhealth.com/Resources/AboutUs].
(Clearly this eliminates the safety net of group medical plans.)

2) The company press room provides articles describing what EH values [http://www.extendhealth.com/Resources/PressKit].

"General Motors Corp. retirees are likely in for sticker shock after the company announced it is
cutting health benefits for retirees older than 65. "
"There's going to be some shock when it comes to premiums and extra costs for what the options
are," said Sue Mathiesen, director of research for McGraw Wentworth, a Troy-based benefits
consulting firm. "
(I guess these changes may be better for management than for employees)

"The task that faces us is to take a lot of time in educating these retirees, they have had these rich
benefits for years and now they will be faced with a large number of choices,"
( I guess us poor old scientists don't know the difference between defined benefit and defined contribution plans. We need some really smart insurance agents to educate us that less is better.)

"Wal-Mart Rolling Out Health Insurance Program for Small Businesses" This is one of several articles touting the relationship between Extend Health and Wal-Mart/Sam's Club.
(What's the difference between a laboratory that has been labeled as "one of the crown jewels of America" and Wal-Mart?? No difference in its views on employee health benefits.)



While many nameless individuals and organizations likely had a role in this process, a benefits change this large could not occur without the direct approval of GM. One year ago GM spoke with emotion in his voice about the "LLNL family" pulling together to adapt to the changes in new contract. Now, one year later, he has decided that the aged and disabled medicare members of "our family" will be the first to be eliminated from the safety net of our group medical plans, and left to fend for themselves in the cutthroat medical insurance market.

This heartless move may be perfectly legal, but it sure doesn't pass my smell test for respect and fair play for these retirees who gave their all for our laboratory and our country. GM and associates: SHAME ON YOU; Have you no respect for your former colleagues; How can you sleep at night?

How about dental care benefits?

Anonymous contribution:

Dental Benefits Changed Without Mention


While looking closely at the medical packages, I also noticed that the name of the dental plan had changed from Delta Dental and the HMO variant to Delta DPO and the HMO variant. [sarcasm on] Trusting that there would not be any significant change without notice in the package, [sarcasm off] I asked my dentist which of the two packages they took. Imagine my surprise when my Dentist told me "neither" -- our current Delta Dental benefit is now Delta Premier, and we don't have that option anymore after the end of the year.

So now I have to change dentists to stay in the insurance network. Annoying, but at least I found out about it before the end of open enrollment. And, of course, the number of dentists in my area who take the "middle" and "low" end Delta insurance options is vanishingly small.

You'd think there'd at least be some notice in the package. Yet another case of failure to communicate effectively and openly with the staff.

Blog Archive