Text of September 14, 2001 Memorandum from President Francis L. Lawrence

Subject: Health Benefits for Same Sex Partners

I am writing in response to the Senate’s resolution in support of full health benefits for same sex partners of Rutgers employees and retirees.

The majority of AAU public universities do not offer a health insurance program for same sex domestic partners.  Of the 26 public AAU institutions other than Rutgers, 16, or 65%, do not provide health benefits for same sex domestic partners (We have treated the University of California system as one institution for this purpose, since health benefits are uniform system-wide.).  The issues regarding health benefits for domestic partners are very different for public and private institutions given their different funding mechanisms.

The basic issue for Rutgers is that benefits for Rutgers’ employees are provided by the state through the state health benefits program (SHBP).  Because the state program does not provide benefits for domestic partners, there is no outside source of funding for benefits for domestic partners, as there is for spouses of employees covered by the SHBP.  Health insurance benefits for an employee’s spouse and dependents are paid for by the State.

Despite this, Rutgers does provide a health insurance reimbursement program for employees with same sex sole domestic partners.  The funds for reimbursement for this health insurance for domestic partners are provided directly by Rutgers, and come from tuition revenues.  Rutgers’ program is based on the principle of equivalent expenditure for health insurance for spouses and same sex sole domestic partners and is similar to the program in place at the University of Minnesota whose employees, like Rutgers’ employees, receive health benefits through a state plan which does not provide benefits for same sex sole domestic partners.  Under this program, in place since 1999, Rutgers reimburses employees with qualifying domestic partners for the purchase of medical, prescription drug and dental insurance in an amount based upon the average cost, under the various plans available under the SHBP, of adding covering for a spouse or dependent(s).

The AAUP is the only group that has not accepted this program and therefore it is not available to its members.  All bargaining units at the university other than the AAUP have accepted Rutgers’ Health Insurance Reimbursement Program for Same Sex Sole Domestic Partners.  We have offered this coverage to the AAUP while negotiations with the AAUP and litigation by the AAUP are proceeding, but this coverage has been declined by the AAUP.

This summer the university provided the AAUP with a proposal that revises the university’s program while maintaining the principles on which the current program is based.  The university is waiting for the AAUP’s response to the proposal.

c: K. Scott