Town Hall Meetings

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University Staff Advisory Council of the Pennsylvania State University


Periodically, Penn State holds Town Hall meetings to give the University community an opportunity to ask administrators questions on a variety of topics. USAC and STrategic COmmunications co-sponsor the Town Halls. 

Staff are invited to submit their questions to [email protected] or [email protected].
Your question will be forwarded to the moderator anonymously.

The questions and answers are posted here for staff who could not attend the Town Hall either in person or electronically. Due to time constraints, not all questions are addressed during the Town Halls, so USAC asks the appropriate administrators for answers, which are also posted here as we get them.


June 2018 Town Hall on the 2017 Values and Culture Survey results

June 25, 2018 Town Hall - results of the 2017 Values and Culture Survey

In case you missed the live Town Hall on June 25th, you can view the recording online.  Questions can still be submitted to [email protected].  And, please complete the Town Hall feedback survey.

As always, staff can contact the University Staff Advisory Council with questions, concerns, and feeback via email to [email protected].

September 2017 Town Hall on New Health Care Options

What can you say to allay fears about changes to the Affordable Care Act?

Penn State remains committed to a high-quality, cost-effective health care program for employees irrespective of what happens at federal level. The job of the University’s administration is to navigate the uncertain and changing landscape on employees’ behalf.

Will employees be able to get their prescriptions mailed to them through CVS Caremark?

Although the coverage is through CVS Caremark, you can use other pharmacies, including the University Health Services pharmacy. The formulary will be posted by mid-October and you and your physician can determine if it is covered. There is also an appeal process.

Will the information we have given to Highmark over the years, including personal health information, be protected?

Provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) continue to pertain to all of the information provided to Highmark, so Highmark will be compliant with HIPAA to ensure patient confidentiality and that personal health information is retained in a secure fashion. The University is confident the information is secure.

Will my current doctor, with Geisinger, still be considered "In Network"?

In all likelihood you will continue with your current doctor. There will be very few exceptions. Geisinger will remain in network.

I've had one doctor tell me that he's planning to boycott Aetna because their reimbursement rates to doctors are very low. Who sets these rates and how would Penn State respond if a lot of doctors were to boycott Aetna?

There is an appeals process for their particular care requirements if someone does not feel they are being treated fairly or properly.  University does not anticipate anything substantially different in move from Highmark to Aetna.  Aetna will be doing their best to reach out to physicians who serve Penn State employees who are not on their network currently to establish a contract into the network.

What will happen to the money employees have put into a health savings account under Highmark?

The money in your plan will be rolled over and usable by you.

Where will the money that the university is saving with the new plan go?

It is money needed to keep educational costs affordable and to allow us to make investments in facilities and equipment, including the new capital plan.  The University is committed over the long haul to ensure that staff and faculty are compensated competitively and fairly for their work. Every extra savings opportunity allows us to make investments in our people in other ways.

Is there any chance with this shift to Aetna that I will be denied if I have a pre-existing condition?

No one will be denied.

Will the Healthways – Prime Fit be available through AETNA? 

If you signed up for the Highmark sponsored fitness plan, you are in and can continue.  The fact that we are moving to Aetna doesn’t mean you lost access.


Additional questions were answered via Penn State Today news, located here.


April 2017 Town Hall on Human Resources

With changes to health care plans, will employees still be able to choose their own physicians and providers?

David Gray, Sr. Vice President for Finance & Business – Yes. We’ll continue to provide choice and have a broad and wide physician network.

Does Penn State have any resources to help employees facing hardships?

Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources – Yes, Penn State offers an Employee Assistance Fund. This is an endowed fund for employees to receive money for serious financial hardship that does not have to be paid back. You may begin your application through the Office of Human Resources’ website.

What will WorkLion mean for Penn State employees?

David Gray, Sr. Vice President for Finance & Business – The WorkLion project is aimed to be a complete human resources and payroll systems replacement for the ESSIC platform. It will be much more user friendly and as a web-based portal, you will have on-demand access to your pay and benefits information.

What is Penn State’s goal in hiring?

Susan Basso, Vice President for Human Resources – Recruitment at Penn State is committed to Affirmative Action and we are an Equal Opportunity employer. Our Affirmative Action plan is outsourced and it is our plan to guide and help us understand and appreciate where we have underrepresentation and can improve. We are already a very diverse campus, and while it is not all measured in the plan, our continued commitment to diversity in hiring remains important to the institution.

Would the University consider switching to a paid time off model instead of separating vacation and sick time?

Greg Stoner, Sr Director of Compensations & Benefits – A paid time off program is a contemporary way for employers and employees to manage unscheduled time off from work. But the devil’s in the details. Moving from the structure that Penn State has today where there are separate buckets of time for personal, vacation, and sick to a consolidated bucket of time off is challenging. It will require a lot of analysis and discussions on how we migrate from what we have, to what we may want to consider having, under a paid time off program. That being said, I think it’s an initiative that Penn State should consider.

Why do increases in healthcare costs seem to outpace salary increases?

Greg Stoner, Sr Director of Compensations & Benefits – Penn State’s total compensation program has many components. This includes base salary, healthcare, paid time off, retirement, etc. All of these benefits are paid from the same general funds pool of assets. If we can collaborate together in terms of better managing our healthcare costs, that frees up monies to help fund other components of our total compensation program.