May 29, 2008

Audit letter threatens lab retirees with loss of health insurance

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

One-tenth of Los Alamos National Laboratory retirees recently received letters concerning a “Dependent Eligibility Audit” related to their medical insurance.

At least one recipient thought the cancellation of benefits threatened in the letter was a bit much, especially when compared to the nonchalant way it was delivered.

The envelope, dug out of a recycle pile, “is a generic-looking thing from a P.O. Box in Orlando Florida. Sort of like a Publisher’s Clearinghouse offer or something,” wrote lab retiree Abe Jacobson from Washington state in an e-mail to the Monitor.

The envelope with return address marked as “Customer Care Center” has a headline, “Your Benefits Resources” and a relatively unassuming subhead indicating, “Important Information About Your Health and Insurance Benefits.”

It was sent by first-class mail.

Although the threatened consequences of loss of medical coverage for 12 months, might be considered vital, the letter was not registered and no return-receipt was requested upon delivery.

The sender is not clear on the outside, but is specified in the letter itself as the lab’s management company, Los Alamos National Security, LLC. There is also a bold first line: “Time Sensitive: Your Action Required.”

Laboratory spokesperson Steve Sandoval confirmed Wednesday that the letter is the second round of a two-part audit. The first round went to laboratory employees. In both mailings, 10 percent of the enrollees in each category were chosen to receive letters.

The letter informs the recipient that he or she has been randomly selected for a medical insurance audit and that a response is required before July 31. If the response does not arrive in time, the letter states, “you and your listed dependent(s) will be dropped from coverage … for 12 months.”

In a telephone conversation and several e-mails to the Monitor, Jacobson insisted that the matter had been handled in a “preremptory and careless manner.”

“That is,” he wrote, “for people lucky enough to be in this random sample … their failure to open, read and respond to this letter means they will be dropped from coverage on Aug. 1.”

Jacobson said he typically tries to be away from home for up to three months during the summer, “and it was only good fortune that I got this letter before my departure.”

Had he left a bit earlier, he noted, he would have returned to find that he and his wife were without medical insurance and extremely vulnerable.

Sandoval relayed questions from Jacobsen and the Monitor to human resources officials at the laboratory. One of the questions was about follow-up policy in case there is not a reply.

The officials answered that, with the audit of active employees and a previous audit of retirees under the University of California, they sent several reminders.

“We went above and beyond to contact these people, which resulted in 100-percent compliance and no one lost their medical coverage except for those dependents who truly were ineligible,” officials said.

They also responded to the question about the relatively minimal attempt to command the attention of the recipient compared to the specified consequences, saying the first audit of active employees was sent “certified.”

But letters were not sent certified to the retirees because they had been informed by callers that the postal service “sporadically delivers to outlying areas,” and the certified letters did not need to be signed by the addressee, only family members.

“Certifying the letters added an expense that we realized was not necessary because the follow-up reminder letters, which were not certified, resulted in an enormous response,” the human resource officials replied.

They added, “Our intention is NOT to de-enroll them. It is simply to ensure the plan is being used appropriately.”

The response still did not satisfy Jacobson, who suggested in an e-mail early this morning that the letter should then have said, “The cancellation will occur on Aug. 1 and will be repealed as soon as the required documentation is provided to LANL.”

Without such working, he added, “it’s like saying, if you do not bother to prove your innocence of shoplifting by sending us the purchase receipt for the plasma TV in your living room, we’ll send you to jail for a year, and if the receipt is produced after you enter jail then you’ll still spend a year in jail.”

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was selected to "verify" my dependents. I thought that meant proving that my dependents were actually my, um, dependents. So I sent off for birth certificates, etc.

When one hadn't arrived yet as the deadline was approaching, I contacted HR to see what to do.

It turns out all I had to do was supply a copy of my 2007 federal income tax return, which lists my dependents.

Right, like that proves anything. If I lied to HR when I signed up my "dependents," I could just as easily lie on a "copy" of the federal income tax form. How are they gonna know that the 1040 form I handed them is not actually a copy of what I sent to the IRS? I could write anything on it.

Shouldn't they have verified my dependents (by actual proof, even) at the time they were signed up?

These audits are arbitrary, capricious and stupid, and an onerous waste of time and money. Who was the bureaucratic idiot that thought this up?

Anonymous said...

Way to go, LANS. This makes it fairly clear how you feel about those who served large portions of their careers in loyal service to LANL. You return the favor in true corporate fashion by treating them like a piece of disgusting sh*t to be skimmed off a pair of Gucci loafers. What a class act.

Give it another year or two and LANS will be be announcing an end to retirement medical benefits. It's what NNSA wants, so it will likely earn LANS a nice, fat bonus once they wipe it out.

Anonymous said...

Get your panties un-knotted.

These letters are not a big deal, and verification surveys are not malicious.

And yes, a copy of your tax return is fine.

Anonymous said...

The letters are not a big deal. At least not to the assholes that sent them. It'd be a big deal (to me) if I lost my benefits for a year because I failed to respond. No big deal to corporate overlords though.

It's nice that a copy of my tax return "is fine," but it doesn't prove anything. Why bother with the audit if it doesn't accomplish anything?

Do they really think that people who lied about their dependents when they signed them up are too stupid to lie about them again on a "copy" of a tax return?

Or are they only targeting people who mistakenly signed up non-dependents on accident?

Aren't there better things for bureaucrats to do? Like, shuffle jelly beans or something?

Anonymous said...

10:20 PM "Verification surveys are not malicious"

For something as important as health care coverage, the notification letters should have been sent by registered mail, return receipt required. Sending these letters by regular mail is indefensible and can only be construed as a malicious act.

Anonymous said...

"But letters were not sent certified to the retirees because they had been informed by callers that the postal service
“sporadically delivers to outlying areas,” and the certified letters did not need to be signed by the addressee, only family members."


What? LANS can't even come up with a remoteley credible excuse.

Anonymous said...

Why cancel coverage for a year as opposed to upon response? This is either pure idiocy on the part of LANS or malicious intent. Nothing benign here...not when you're placing someone's health in jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone consider having to provide copies of tax returns excessive? Why should my spouses' income and other personal info on my tax return be of any concern to LANS or its health audit contractor? This is nothing more than a big brother invasion of privacy. Or am I being unpatriotic for not dropping my pants for another amber alert rectal exam? Come on sheeple, drop'em!

Anonymous said...

This isn't the first year that this audit has taken place. In the last couple of years I'm sure LANS has created some 'churn' through the HR/Benefits office and some (more) heartburn for the employees who find themselves in the pool of those who are audited.

This seems to be an obvious nickel & dime solution to a million dollar problem with the LANL budget by knocking off a few families from the benefits rolls, they probably can save a couple thousand dollars and the LANS management can proudly claim 'cost containment efforts have proven successful, please send our bonus!'

Anonymous said...

When I took my tax return to HR, the receptionist took a marker and blacked out the social security numbers and the financial information.

I feel safe now.

Anonymous said...

On the frontier, stealing someone's horse was a hanging offense because it endangered a person's life. Cutting off someone's health insurance for no greater offense than not answering a piece of mail also endangers life. I say, it should be illegal. It's certainly immoral.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of hypocritical whiny butts. Insurance companies make money by minimizing payouts. How many of you have retirement funds invested in health-insurance related funds?

How many of you get pissed off when you hear about cases of Medicaid or Worker's Comp fraud?

I guess it's different when it's "those people" who are falsely claiming dependents on their health insurance. Why should you have to provide evidence that you're not bilking the system? I'm sure there can't possibly be ANY lab employees who are engaging in fraud.

Just like how there aren't any lab employees using heroin on the weekends. Right.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see the perplexed and frightened expression on your sorry face, 9:13 AM, when LANS decides to remove or drastically cut-back your retirement medical benefits in the next couple of years. That would be priceless. Who will be the "hypocritical whiny butt" on that special day?

Anonymous said...

Much of the criticism about this action has to do with the tacky physical appearance of the letter. It looks like a piece of junk mail. WTF is up with that? It shows a careless attitude on LANS part (or, perhaps they are hoping the letters will be thrown in the trash!).

Greg Close said...

So, as usual, it seems that ignorance and the chance to Lab-bash wins out over any reasonable disagreement, discussion or discourse on the topic at-hand. It also seems that one letter and a misleading (if not completely biased) article in the Monitor, is being relied on as the sole source of fact-finding and the basis for the rants. Needs must I defend our honor… for sooth.

Here are some facts to sprinkle over the sensationalism (just for flavor):

Why Audit
This audit is neither arbitrary, capricious, or stupid. That statement reveals a fundamental ignorance of benefits administration and of the intent of such an audit, in the first place. Since we do not inconvenience retirees with providing paper proof for every single change in benefits (marriage, divorce, adoption etc) or at Open Enrollment, it is only good business sense to select a random sample of the population and ask that this sample group provide acceptable proof of their dependents status. The intent is not to find people to cancel, it is only to make sure that we aren’t being irresponsible and wasting our premium monies and those of our retirees covering ineligible dependents. Or, committing any other inconvenient acts like violating the law (we do look out for that).

Example: one such audit at a previous employer revealed that an employee’s listed spouse was actually his dog. We de-enrolled Fluffy (name changed to protect the innocent). The dog’s prescriptions had been going through our employee health plan as the “spouse’s” Rx, filled at a local pharmacy and costing the employee only a co-pay. Saved the employee a lot of money – cost the plan a bundle.

Audit History
UC conducted an annual audit, with similar language, methodology, and mailing practices as the LANS Benefits Office is now conducting. This is nothing new. The consequences are nothing new. What’s new is that since “LANS” is on my paycheck now instead of “UC” everyone seems to assume that the same action is now somehow part of The Evil LANS Conspiracy. It’s not. It’s been going on for years and years in similar fashion with NO controversy.

Certified Mail:
People complained about certified/registered mail in the active audit. We did not make up the excuse about delays delivering certified mail to outlying areas – our employees told us this was a problem, and we attempted to respond to that concern. Our fault for listening to our employees and considering their complaints credible, I suppose. Since we do a ridiculously thorough follow-up communication plan for non-respondents, it’s not like anyone will slip through the cracks.

Cancellation:
We audited our active population earlier this year. Despite a few outliers who did not respond on time, or provide the correct documents initially, we cancelled NO-ONE’s coverage in a punitive fashion. Legally, we could have done so. Instead, we sent reminder letters, emails, called the employees or their managers or their office admins until we could be sure we had it right, and that no-one entitled to coverage was cancelled due to an oversight or delay or forgetfulness or outright unresponsiveness. It’s not like we’re sending letters and then dancing in anticipation next to a big red “cancel” button.

“EX-cellent. Smithers… cancel their benefits and release the hounds!”

Faking Proof
Yeah, you can counterfeit your tax return or other proof. I guess, unlike 9:40am, we’re assuming that Lab retirees are generally honest folk who aren’t trying to steal from the retiree medical plan. We are taking reasonable measures toward due diligence, this isn’t an FBI investigation. Imagine the outcry if we required these documents to be notarized, for example?

Malicious
Who do you think works here? It’s hard not to be offended by these assertions. We work hard to help people every day - just like when UC was our employer. I know some of things we do seem like bureaucracy wrapped in red-tape, and inconvenient and imperfect our processes may be, but we are not malicious. If we were half as malicious as we stand accused, you’d have no retiree health care right now. We wouldn’t wait two years to satisfy our evil whims, or that of the Dark Council that directs our nefarious actions.

As usual – I’ll offer up my contact information if anyone has real questions about the facts of this audit, the laws that govern our plans, our responsibilities to our participants, our commitment to our retirees, the potential value gained from this audit, or how seriously we take any action that might cancel someone’s benefits (active or retired). I’m happy to answer questions for those with enough professional courtesy to bother asking.

Sincerely,

Greg Close, LANL Benefits Team Leader
gsclose@lanl.gov

Greg Close said...

Here’s my reactive, emotional, rant. This should be a familiar format; it seems how most of these posts were composed. Low on intellect, high on reactive emotions and pithy superior comments. I’ll post a nice professional response with some actual factual illumination so people will at least have the opportunity to look at all the facts before passing judgment.

I’m trying to figure out if I’m the bureaucratic idiot, the criminal, the jelly-bean shuffler, the malicious provider of poor excuses, or part of the evil Benefit Illuminati that are scheming to cancel retiree benefits…. I’m so evil my children run from me in horror when I come home from work. My dog bites me and spits out the bad taste in her mouth. My wife tells people I work for the Neo-Nazi party, just to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that I work for Benefits at LANL.

Not that I take any personal offense at you questioning the morals, judgment, ethics, intelligence, or compassion of lil’ ol’ me or this office… its fun for people to spin half-facts and hatreds and biases against LANS in general into personal insults against us. It’s easy enough to hate an institution, let’s spread the hate on an individual basis too – let’s call ‘em names and duck safely behind our “Anonymous said…” alias. No harm, no foul!

So… what do you guys do? I’d love the chance to publicly lecture some of you (anonymously and very self-importantly, of course) on issues I know next-to-nothing about, based on my “common wisdom” or unrelated education, degree, or experience. I would certainly not put myself in your shoes; try to think that you might actually know something that I don’t know about laws, regulations or procedures that might govern your specialty. I wouldn’t want to muddy my argument with any factual references or citations or research; too high brow! I obviously wouldn’t call you myself to ask some questions first, and see what’s true, what’s false, and what’s somewhere in-between.

I know the people conducting this audit. They are smart, caring and dedicated people. Those of you slinging epithets and insults and name-calling reveal more about your own character than you do of theirs.

Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

I'm not complaining about having to provide evidence that I'm not defrauding the insurance.

My complaint is that the "proof" they'll settle for is no proof at all, making the whole exercise pointless and a waste of time and effort, both for the lucky participants that get selected to participate, and for the bureaucracy that's implementing it.

Anyone who wants to defraud the insurance can simply provide a fraudulent "copy" of their income tax return, and the fraud continues.

The "audit" itself is the fraud here.

Mesa Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just like how there aren't any lab employees using heroin on the weekends. Right. Said
5/30/08 9:13 AM

You would know, obviouly.

Greg Close said...

One last note: about 5 minutes worth of research using an obscure little tool called "Google" could have produced some background for Mr. Snodgrass or our detractors on the blog. By no means do I assume that this does or should mean a reasonable person could disagree with how or why we conduct such an audit at LANL. It should however provide some background and information that we are hardly alone in the practice, and that our methods are not capricious or stupid, but well considered and intelligently geared toward potential cost savings and legal compliance.

Sites of some relevance, after entering "benefits eligibility audit" into the Google search bar:

Penn State Audit page: http://www.hr.upenn.edu/Benefits/DependentAudit.aspx

HR Management Article on Audits: http://www.hrmreport.com/pastissue/article.asp?art=268455&issue=172

State of Ohio consideration of Audit: http://www.das.ohio.gov/hrd/Policy/H-Benefits%20Audit%20Handouts-James%20Knight.doc

TCU Audit (Transportation Communication Union) http://www.goiam.org/content.cfm?cID=12472

Universisty of CA Audit (this example, Berkeley Lab): http://www.lbl.gov/today/2005/Apr/27-Wed/audit-jump.html

UC Audit(General notice from At Your Service, back from 2006 when this audit applied to LANL): http://atyourservice.ucop.edu/briefing/2006_jan/2006_h&w_audit.html

Anonymous said...

11:26 AM,

20+ years to retirement, with potential for umpteen contract changes along the way... I did the risk assessment and went TCP2. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Hugs and kisses,
9:13 AM

Anonymous said...

Greg Close: You crack me up!

Anonymous said...

I got to provide the documents when I retired, so now I get to provide them again. Why not just look at the records that were sent in when people retired?

Greg Close said...

Good question: Why not use historical data as proof?

UC didn't look at historical proof either - the point is to verify current eligibility. A document submitted 1, 3, 5 or 20 years ago does not confirm *current* dependent eligibility.

Same things applies for "repeat selection" in the audit. Since the audit is random, it is statistically possible that you might have to provide proof two years in a row, or twice in 5 years, etc.

Both situations are geared to catch, as an example - a spouse who was eligible at the last annual audit, or upon retirement, whom you have subsequently divorced but not removed from coverage. Stranger things than this happen all the time...

Anonymous said...

Greg Close said:
> ...it is only good business sense
> to select a random sample of the
> population and ask that this sample
> group provide acceptable proof of
> their dependents status.

That would be fine. But your "acceptable proof" is no proof at all.

> I guess, unlike 9:40am, we’re
> assuming that Lab retirees are
> generally honest folk who aren’t
> trying to steal from the retiree
> medical plan.

Then what is the purpose of the audit? "Due diligence" to what end?

Fraud?
The required "evidence" is just as easy to dummy up as the original claim of dependents. If you're going to do an audit, at least require something that's not trivial to counterfeit.

Mistakes?
How often do people name a person as a dependent by mistake?

Unreported deaths of dependents?
That can't be too common either, though I suppose it does happen from time to time.

Fraud would be the main concern, I would think.

The main reason for doing these audits I agree is not so insidious, but seems to be just another example of a poorly thought out bureaucratic ass-covering maneuver, which seem to be very common these days at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Greg Close: "We did not make up the excuse about delays delivering certified mail to outlying areas – our employees told us this was a problem, and we attempted to respond to that concern."

Greg, come on, you're digging a deeper hole for LANS. If slow delivery of certified mail was really a problem, it would easily be solved by sending both a certified letter and the junk-mail-lookalike letter. The junk mail may or may not get delivered first and it may or may not actually be opened and read, but the certified mail will get there, will be opened, and will be read.

This is a simple case of bad judgement just like many other examples from LANS management.

Anonymous said...

1) Greg mustered me out several years ago. He was dedicated, smart and conscientious. I don't think he was a team leader then, but the fact that he is now one is a clear example of cream rising.

2) There is a huge difference between the level of care one takes with tax forms and insurance forms, and a huge difference in penalties. Yes, it is operationally the same to lie on both, since it is just writing something down. No, it is very different to lie on a tax return and an insurance form, so LANL is piggybacking on the IRS's enforcement mechanisms.

3) Many of you are being obstinate jerks, and you know it.

Greg Close said...

Response to 5:21, re: acceptable proof. I understand your point, and I really hope I can explain it.

Proof is intended to accomplish a few goals.
1) Awareness. Most de-enrollments in a dependent eligibility audit are typically people who forgot to identify that Johnny aged off the plan, or that Johnny got married, or is a step-child or ward subject to different criteria, or what have you. No penalty, no fraud, just a matter of fixing the record. This was our most common type of correction during the active audit. This is where we save the most money, and it's not punitive.
2) Fraud. To a lesser extent, we may catch someone who, because they only had to click a button on-line at Open Enrollment, enrolled a girlfriend/boyfriend instead of a spouse. When confronted with actually forging a document, most people actually do back off, and feign ignorance that the dependent wasn't eligible. Some may choose to commit fraud - and we'll catch them later for not only having an ineligible dependent and violating plan rules, but for committing a crime. If they're up for the risk...
3) Due Diligence/Audit. We need to protect ourselves in the event of an audit from federal or private auditors. The proof list we use is (prepare yourself) the list of acceptable proof generally accepted by those entities... so, it's not like we pulled it out of a hat. UC used the same proof criteria for years - still does, to my knowledge. Perfect proof or not, it will keep us from paying fines or getting bad "grades."

Remember that this was an ongoing practice under UC - a change of stationary should not make the SAME letter/process suddenly suspect. Would it make you feel better to know that NO ONE in LANS upper level management dictated this audit? It has nothing to do with them; only administering to our (most holy) of benefit plans. So I don't think they're seeing any big bonus out of this, one way or the other.

-Greg

Anonymous said...

"Greg mustered me out several years ago"

What could this possibly mean?

Anonymous said...

Get real, 9:42 PM. Falsification on the original form you send in to the IRS versus the poorly xeroxed copy you send in to LANS HR are not the same thing. The first one may get you in jail, while the second one has no serious criminal penalties.

This whole procedure is just busy work for both HR and retirees so that LANS can tell NNSA, "Look at us, we're working hard to cut down your operating costs."

It's a meaningless exercise with lots of paper shuffling and busy work, but little that is actually being accomplished. Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

9:42 pm: "Many of you are being obstinate jerks, and you know it."

Wait, isn't that a prerequisite to even post on this blog??

Anonymous said...

Abe Jacobson has it right...

------

"The response still did not satisfy Jacobson, who suggested in an e-mail early this morning that the letter should then have said, “The cancellation will occur on Aug. 1 and will be repealed as soon as the required documentation is provided to LANL.”

Without such working, he added, “it’s like saying, if you do not bother to prove your innocence of shoplifting by sending us the purchase receipt for the plasma TV in your living room, we’ll send you to jail for a year, and if the receipt is produced after you enter jail then you’ll still spend a year in jail.”

------

It's not just that the letter looks like a piece of junk mail. It's the whole demeanor of the thing. Greg appears to be tone deaf to this point.

Greg Close (AGAIN?) said...

Response to the "other" 5:21, re: my propensity to move earth. ;)

Here's my honest personal belief about the certified letters, and if I'm digging a hole, then I'm posting my name on it in big letters, wiping the dirt off my hands, and popping a nice cold adult beverage...

"EITHER WAY, WE LOSE"

We thought we were doing the right thing for the active audit to send certified mail. We got lots of negative feedback. We thought we'd try to show how we listen to feedback, and try to improve our process, so we sent the retirees not registered mail. We now have lots of negative feedback. Either way, one crowd of people think we're idiots and don't know what we're doing. We lose.

Here's the good part: either way we do it, the retirees DO NOT lose. Allow me to explain. Think of this from a pure process perspective. What's the point of sending certified letters? To guarantee a signature and therefore an acknowledgment of receipt. So, the goal is: confirmation of receipt/keep people from falling through the cracks. We don't want negative consequences due to a mistake or a misplaced letter.

We agree so far, I hope.

Our solution is that, although we didn't send the letter certified this time, we ARE still following up on any non-respondent in person. So I submit, and please consider this reasoning, that we will in fact accomplish the same end-goal as a certified letter.

No one is going to be dropped out-of-hand. We don't want to do that, and we are going to follow our proven follow up process to make sure it doesn't happen. If we have significant non-response from our first, non-certified letter, we can always follow up with a certified letter... but since a regular letter seems to be working just fine, should we really have to go to those lengths and that expense right away? Is that really good sense?

I really disagree that this was bad judgement - I think, in fact, it's been blown ALL out of proportion. Maybe I've got my head in the sand; maybe you do - maybe we're right next to each other. Hopefully, it's beach sand. Regardless, I'm not out here trying to make excuses - I'm just trying to explain. There's no other reason for me to do this except that I believe in what we're doing here, and I believe in the integrity of the people doing it. Why on earth would I be signing my REAL name and providing my email for further correspondence with folks if I was just out here to tow the line? You can ask people on my team, or people I've spoken with on a variety of issues, if I tow the line just to tow the line... I don't. I only tow it if I believe it.

Greg
gsclose@lanl.gov

Greg Close (Last Hurrah) said...

You guys tire me out. It's not mindless paperwork, it's not shuffling, it's not a "feel good" for NNSA - it's the job of ANY benefits administrator worth his/her salt.

As for my tone deafness, this is a result of the hole digging... apparently the jackhammer can cause serious hearing loss.

In all seriousness, we did run the letter by the Los Alamos Retiree Group before we mailed it. We listened to their suggestions, made EVERY edit they requested, and then sent it to print. It's an audit letter, folks - by definition the demeanor is going to be at least a little grim so people take it seriously.

Anyway, I'm done posting - I think you're all sick of hearing from me and I don't know what else to say. If we're still in disagreement, we're still in disagreement. I'm happy to speak to anyone one on one if they really want to get through something that's bothering them. Email me to set up a time, if you'd like.

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to at least try and explain; I'm saddened that I haven't met much success. Now... where's that adult beverage?

-Greg
gsclose@lanl.gov

Anonymous said...

"Greg mustered me out several years ago"...What could this possibly mean?

Greg was the HR person who worked with me when I left the lab. Sorry, I thought that my language was pretty clear.

Certainly Not Greg Close said...

10:41PM "The first one may get you in jail, while the second one has no serious criminal penalties."

Untrue. Do some research and fact checking on that. You will find that the federal sentencing guidelines are stiff and penalties for insurance fraud often involve mandatory jail time.

-You Know Who

Jeremy said...

Hey Greg, made sense to me....I don't see what the problem is.

Anonymous said...

Folks, how many LANL staff are willing to post to this blog? You all gripe because you can't get answers and then gripe when someone from LANL provides answers.

Some UC Retirees have been asked for dependent verification for as long as I have been retired (12 years) and some UC employees were also asked for dependent verification if they listed unusual dependents, such as grandchildren.

Get aover it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Greg - Don't know you, sorry you have a miscommunication issue (again) but I find it hard to believe that a retiree group would agree with the tone of the letter. If this is what resulted after their input, I can only imagine the original text. Maybe in the future consider the tone, that's what people are commenting about. That tone (i.e., you are all a bunch of drugged out cheats who didn't perform an honest day of work and now that you're retired, you continue to cheat us and we're gonna get you)has become the LANS trademark. It is not just us, employees and retirees alike,that are over-reactive, look in the mirror LANS, umm, management. Think I'll send this in to Dilbert.

Anonymous said...

Greg Close: "If we have significant non-response from our first, non-certified letter, we can always follow up with a certified letter..."

IF the initial worry was that the postal service
“sporadically delivers to outlying areas” wouldn't this approach, waiting to see if the junk mail got through before sending a certified letter, be slower and give these respondents, if anything, less time to respond?

It's the threatening tone, LANS' cavalier approach, and the drastic and inflexible penalty for late response that we object to.

The reaction here may seem obstinate, but consider that this kind of disrespect for employees and retirees has become a pattern with LANS.

Anonymous said...

"Get aover (sic) it." - 12:48 AM

This is Los Alamos, fella. We love to bitch. It's our passion in life.

Get use to it.

Anonymous said...

.....bunch of fucking drama queens..........

Anonymous said...

9:42PM said "1) Greg mustered me out several years ago. He was dedicated, smart and conscientious. I don't think he was a team leader then, but the fact that he is now one is a clear example of cream rising."

It's not cream rising to the top that comes to mind unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Yeah 3:12 PM - HR = Shit or Human Rot.

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys, lay off Greg. He's rare voice of authority at LANL who's willing to put his ass on the line on this blog. Don't shoot the messenger. He has bosses too. At least, he does his homework and gives whatever information he can, as opposed to misinformation or no information at all, which is what we're used to from LANS.

The ongoing bleating on this subject is just a little overwrought. Get a grip.

Greg Close said...

Cavalier? Disrespectful? Pardon me, but I ask you to explain that. Which of the following actions was either of those two adjectives?

1) Using UC's letter as template for our letter. No one has yet to explain how UC's letter/language was perfectly fine, but our near identical letter somehow transformed into something dark and evil.

2) Asking LARG to review the letter and getting their blessing before sending it.

3) Listening to employee feedback, and modifying our practices based on that feedback (the letters).

4) Trying to explain/answer on this blog and offering one-on-one follow up, as needed.

Which of those actions was cavalier and disrespectful? I am honestly asking... because I don't get it.

Again, I'm not saying there's no room for disagreement. But your choice of adjectives don't fit the facts. I think there's plenty of disrespect and cavalier attitude around here, and it ain't coming from me or from the Benefits Office. Go count the insults, name-calling and the snap judgments on this thread and let the facts bear me out on that one.

-Greg
gsclose@lanl.gov

Anonymous said...

Greg, it's the level of trust. UC had some. I'm afraid LANS has absolutely none.

People see some of the things going on since LANS took over two years ago (even things outside of the area of benefits) and don't like what they see.

There is a keen sense that LANL has been hijacked by Bechtel and their other LLC partners and the remaining employees don't like it. That's the gist of what's going on. Sorry if bothers you, but don't take it personally, because you sound like a fairly decent guy.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where this Manichean concept of UC/Bechtel comes from. UC is the majority partner in the LLC, so whatever is happening is coming from UC.

Anonymous said...

4:46 pm: "UC is the majority partner in the LLC, so whatever is happening is coming from UC."

Hehehe. Man, are you clueless!!!

Anonymous said...

"Hehehe. Man, are you clueless!!!"

Pot, meet kettle.

Anonymous said...

UC's man is currently the King on the Chessboard of LANS...all the other pieces are Bechtel's.

Anonymous said...

Where’s the outrage?!

New UC president is pan cake aficionado with $900K compensation package (more than double his predecessors package). UC layoffs pending, reduction in available courses, huge increases in student costs and fees underway.

Obviously this is where Mike and George learned their management styles.

http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_9396099?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com

New UC President will be living very well
http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_9341391?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com

UC students face fee hikes and class cuts http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_9174582?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com

UC seeks to rein in retirement http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_9327090?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com

Facing budget cuts, COS salary raised 26% (a $61K increase) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/18/BAI0UH3QH.DTL

Anonymous said...

7:00 pm: "UC's man is currently the King on the Chessboard of LANS...all the other pieces are Bechtel's."

Good analogy. The concept is called "Figurehead."

Anonymous said...

"Figurehead" or "Hood Ornament"

Anonymous said...

It's a chessman's "check" for Mikey, with Bechtel's final "checkmate" soon to follow. Good thing Mike's got a luxurious Golden Parachute provided by the LLC. He'll need to start thinking about opening that chute before much longer, as the ground is coming up fast.

Anonymous said...

Steven Butcher says.........
You guys think you have it bad? My company "Covidien" in Boulder CO just announced our dependent eligibility audit, using a third party auditer. I have to provide bank statements, birth cirtificates, marriage lic., mortgage statement, property tax info, report card for kids, copy of qualified medical child support order from lawyer that handled my spouses divorce. Hell, I might as well just write them a blank check. What a rip off of my personal info!!!!! Ever heard of identity theft?