Action taken at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly and the effects of the global market downturn and health-care reform prompted the ELCA Board of Pensions to consider plan adjustments.
At its October meeting in Minneapolis, the board's trustees discussed benefits administration issues to treat domestic partnerships the same as marriages for eligibility in the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program as called for in the "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" statement. Final ratification of any plan amendments necessary to be consistent with ELCA policies won't occur until April at the earliest, when the ELCA Church Council meets. The council will ultimately authorize any changes.
Trustees and pension staff will work with Hewitt Associates to develop a competitive annuity solution(s) in response to events in the market and the closing of the ELCA Participating Annuity and Bridge Fund to new investments. The focus will be on picking a viable annuity option to meet retiree needs going forward.
Under reforms being considered by Congress, the ELCA health plan would have to become a qualified health-benefit plan to continue to provide members with coverage. With such a plan, the board would have to make changes to current grievance processes, benefit eligibility and transparency/disclosure practices, among others. The board is working with other denominational benefit boards to ensure church plans are treated fairly in any health-care reform legislation.
Trustees also approved a $49.3 million operating and capital expense budget for 2010, which is lower than the $52.1 million operating and capital expense budget for 2009.
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