After double-digit increases each year since 1999 for ELCA health-plan contribution rates, the ELCA Board of Pensions trustees approved an overall rate increase of about 5 percent for 2005. At its Aug. 4-6 meeting in Minneapolis, the trustees set 2005 rates for six classes. The six-class rate structure is based on geographical differences in health-care costs and salaries (see www.elcabop.org for your synod's class).
Trustees approved health-care contribution increases of 2 percent for retired members under age 60 and 9.9 percent for retired members ages 60 to 64 but no increases for retired members with Medicare Supplement coverage and for members on the disability and survivor benefit plans.
Following lengthy discussion, the trustees approved revisions to the mission statement that will allow the possibility for the pension board to serve other faith-based
"We're not called in the same way to serve other organizations as we are to the ELCA," said trustee Mary S. Ranum, Circle Pines, Minn., during the talks.
John G. Kapanke, pension board president, assured her that "the primary emphasis" is to serve the ELCA. "Extending services to other organizations will help us serve our own members even better through economies of scale," he added.
"Will [other organizations] have no role in the governance?" asked trustee Charlotte E. Carlson, Northfield, Minn.
"Yes, that's correct," responded board of trustees chair Bradley C. Engel, Chicago, adding that product sales to other denominations by Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, would be a parallel.
The trustees also:
• Voted to reduce the board from 21 to 15 trustees.
•s Accepted a philosophy of benefits that says, among other things, that although the plan is voluntary, all church workers should be sponsored; the plan should provide adequate financial protection and include some cost-sharing features; the health, retirement, disability and survivor benefit plans should be bundled; employers should pay the entire monthly cost; and cost is a percentage of compensation.
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